Wed, 05 Apr 2000

Governor asks court to drop 'becak' suit

JAKARTA (JP): Governor Sutiyoso demanded the Central Jakarta District Court on Monday to drop a civil lawsuit filed by becak (pedicab) drivers against his decision to uphold a 1988 bylaw that prohibits becak operation in the city, accusing the lawsuit as incomplete.

"The plaintiffs have failed to name the city council (DPRD) as a party which was also responsible for the issuance of the City Bylaw no. 11/1988, which prohibits becak operation in the city," said lawyers of the governor before a hearing at the district court, presided over by judge Manis Sudjono.

In their defense statement, the lawyers said the bylaw was issued by the governor upon the city council's agreement.

"The city council should also be included as a defendant in the case. Omission of the co-defendant means the lawsuit is incomplete," said the lawyers, who alternated reading of the statement.

Sutiyoso was represented by his lawyers: Susanto, Aleston Tambunan and Hasan Ismail and the pedicab drivers by Sri Wiyanti Eddyono from the Association of Indonesian Women for Justice (APIK). Hundreds of pedicab drivers attended the hearing to observe the proceedings.

Sutiyoso's defense statement also questioned the identities of the plaintiffs.

"The plaintiffs did not provide copies of their identity cards in the lawsuit, stipulating that they are city residents," it said.

The civil lawsuit was filed at district court in February by 139 pedicab drivers on behalf of approximately 6,000 pedicab drivers operating in the city.

The pedicab drivers demanded the governor allow them to operate in areas such as housing complexes and local markets in the capital.

The governor's defense statement also rejected the plaintiffs' statement in a previous hearing, accusing the administration of having resorted to violence in clearing the becaks from the city.

The administration has offered to pay the pedicab drivers Rp 250,000 each, if they voluntarily hand over the pedicabs to the government, the defense statement said, citing the offer as evidence of the city administration's non-violent approach.

According to the statement, the government has provided skills training to the pedicab drivers so that they could find other jobs.

The defense claimed the pedicab drivers have agreed to the proposals. "A total of 2,978 pedicab drivers have handed over their pedicabs, while 1,694 others have returned to their hometowns," the statement said.

The presiding judge adjourned the hearing until next week when the court will hear statements from lawyers representing the pedicab drivers. (asa)