Thu, 06 Jan 2000

Governor urges action against UPC activist

JAKARTA (JP): Governor Sutiyoso urged the Jakarta Police on Wednesday to take all measures necessary against the recent illegal street rally by becak (pedicab) drivers organized by the Urban Poor Consortium (UPC).

In a letter dated Wednesday and addressed to Jakarta Police chief Maj. Gen. Noegroho Djajoesman, the governor stated that the UPC action on Jan. 1, 2000 appeared to be instigating other people as outlawed in Chapter V Article 160 of the Criminal Code on Crimes Against Public Order.

Signed by his deputy for administration affairs Abdul Kahfi, the letter also insisted the street rally, in which some 700 pedicab drivers took part, violated the 1988 Jakarta Regional Regulation number 11 on public order and the 1988 Law number 9 on freedom of speech in a public place.

"Therefore, we need help from the Jakarta Police chief to take necessary action against such rallies, to uphold the law and anticipate similar actions in the future," Sutiyoso stated in his letter.

UPC, a nongovernmental organization, organized a group of 700 pedicab drivers on Saturday to illegally peddle their vehicles in a convoy along the capital's major thoroughfares. They congregated at the City Hall before moving to nearby Monas park and then the popular Hotel Indonesia traffic circle.

The rally, led by UPC chairperson Wardah Hafidz, attracted only a few supporters other than pedicab drivers.

Sutiyoso said in his letter to the police, "UPC has launched a systematic campaign to force the city administration to allow pedicabs to operate again in the capital. They have held several actions to force their demands."

"The organization has also collected signatures from 23,000 residents and 4,000 international sympathizers in an attempt to widen support," Sutiyoso said.

"They (UPC executives) have also made administrative moves by registering the pedicabs and their drivers, something which can only be conducted by the city administration," he added.

When asked to comment on Sutiyoso's letter, Wardah insisted that she was ready to face any risks.

"I'm ready. But it is the governor who should be reported to the police for his policy on pedicabs," she told The Jakarta Post.

She said it was Sutiyoso himself who initially allowed the return of pedicabs to the city without first revoking the city bylaw on that matter.

"But he then revoked his own policy after being criticized," she said.

Sutiyoso initially allowed Jakartan drivers to operate pedicabs in 1988 when the monetary crisis was at its peak. However, he retracted his remarks after the streets became flooded with pedicabs from outside Jakarta.

"Soon after the Idul Fitri holiday, we'll file a lawsuit against the city administration's policy banning pedicabs from the city," Wardah added. (05)