Wed, 10 Aug 1994

Extortionists disappear from Soekarno-Hatta

JAKARTA (JP): Minister of Manpower Abdul Latief said yesterday that the notorious extortionists who used to prey on returning workers have completely disappeared from Soekarno-Hatta airport.

"You can see that the system is again working well," an apparently satisfied Latief told reporters after touring the airport terminal.

The extortionists were nowhere to be found at least during Latief's tour with Director General of Immigration Roni Sikap Sinuraya, Jakarta Military Chief Maj. Gen. Hendropriyono and City Police Deputy Chief of Staff Brig. Gen. Ismet.

During the inspection the minister welcomed some 100 Indonesian workers who were returning from Saudi Arabia.

Latief said the workers would be transported to Cakung by the state-owned bus company Damri. "This company has been temporarily entrusted to transport the workers from the airport to their home villages and the ticket fares will not exceed the standard price."

Hendropriyono said that at least 30 people, four of whom were military officers, have been detained for extorting workers at the airport.

"The detainees will be processed in accordance with the law," he said without elaborating.

He said that he had also deployed around 250 military and 50 police officers to launch a crackdown on illegal brokers extorting workers at the airport.

But Roni said that he did not believe that immigration officers at the airport were involved in the extortion cases.

"I'm not sure that crooked immigration officers in this airport are involved in such cases because they are able to identify who has money and who does not," he said, adding that no immigration officers were punished for extorting workers.


Meanwhile A. Rachim K., the director general of manpower management and placement at the Ministry of Manpower said on Monday that the ministry will cooperate with the Soekarno-Hatta airport authority, Perum Angkasapura, to protect the returning workers from extortionists at the airport.

"We will contact the airport administration soon and discuss each other's role and responsibility in handling the case," Rachim said.

Rachim was commenting on Perum Angkasapura's unilateral decision Monday to transport 66 returning workers on Damri buses directly to their manpower placement agency offices in Ciracas, East Jakarta.

A total of 281 workers arrived from abroad at the airport on Monday, but the airport authority took only 66 of them to Ciracas. The rest traveled to their hometowns by taxi or bus.

Rachim said he regretted that the airport authority did not discuss the plan to arrange special transportation for the returnees with him first.

Rachim's secretary, H.J. Iskandarsyah, said he had long been expecting the airport administration to help with the transport process because "it is their responsibility to do so," but he stated that the airport administration should inform his office first for the sake of coordination. (rms/arf)