Tue, 06 Nov 2001

Damar Harsanto The Jakarta Post Jakarta

While members of the legislature have the option of spending the night at a five-star hotel near the House of Representatives (DPR)/People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) building, a number of policemen who are assigned to secure the event have to sleep in the dark on the ground at the building compound, with mosquitoes for company.

"Look at our barracks for yourself. No electricity, no TV set, not even an electric lamp. The only facility is some new mats we bought with our own money to sleep on," Second brig. Agus Tahyana told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

"We must be accustomed to sleeping in the open air, totally exposed to mosquito attacks here," he said.

Agus, who has camped there for four nights along with hundreds of other police personnel, said that although the situation at the compound during the session was relatively normal, they had been ordered to remain vigilant at the compound until the end of the session.

The session will be over on Friday.

Another police officer, Second brig. Sigit Noviadi, said they had managed to arrange their work schedule so that it included a switch every two hours.

"Every two hours, someone takes a rest, while others are on duty," Sigit said, citing that such switches were needed to maintain the stamina of police personnel, while carrying out tiring and boring tasks.

Not only did they sometimes feel bored, there were also times when they would face strong protest from MPR members and journalists, when police officers wanted to check their ID cards.

Bambang said many MPR members and other very important people (VIPs), as well as journalists, sometimes did not bring their pass cards with them and got upset when they were asked to show their identity cards. Some of them, he added, had filed a complaint with the commander, claiming that some police officers had hampered them in doing their jobs.

Bambang called on them to follow the security procedures, whatever their position or profession.

There was no special allowance for police officers who safeguarded the compound, said Bambang.

"We get no allowance here. We are only given food and drink for our subsistence," he said.

According to Agus, sometimes police personnel were given a bonus of as much as Rp 60,000 (US$5.70) at the end of the operation.

"However, such honoraria are not always distributed for every operation," he said.

City police spokesman Sr. Comr. Anton Bachrul Alam said earlier on Monday that the police had not yet received the funds, totaling Rp 900 million to Rp 1 billion, which were needed to secure the Assembly Annual Session.

"To provide food for the police every day, we have had to borrow from our operational resources," Anton said.

The police would return the money once the funds had been disbursed, Anton said.