Sun, 22 Oct 2000

Kamra members face dissolution

JAKARTA (JP): National Police chief Gen. Surojo Bimantoro announced on Saturday that the police would no longer use the service of some 36,000 members of the People's Security (Kamra).

"Their contract will expire on Dec. 31 and we have no intention of extending their service," Bimantoro told a media conference after a ceremony marking the handover of the Jakarta Police chief post from Insp. Gen. Nurfaizi to Brig. Gen. Mulyono Sulaiman at the city police headquarters.

Bimantoro said it would be up to the Ministry of Defense to decide on what to do next with the Kamra members since it was the ministry which hired them.

"The police are merely responsible for their operations," Bimantoro said.

However, Bimantoro said the police were working with the government and local administrations to accommodate the Kamra members after their dismissal.

"We've held discussions with the Ministry of Defense on the fate of Kamra members," Bimantoro said, adding that the city government had agreed to recruit some 4,000 members to reinforce the City Public Order personnel.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Saleh Saaf said there were about 36,000 Kamra members left across the country from about 40,000 who were recruited in January 1999.

In the capital alone, there are about 12,000 Kamra members who are divided into four groups.

Law No. 56/1999, which refers to the recruitment of the Kamra members, stipulates that a contract of a military-trained civilian is only valid for one year and can only be renewed once.

"The contracts of the members were extended last year. So it's impossible to extend their contract for another term," Saleh told The Jakarta Post.

Citing a lack of security personnel, former minister of defense and security/Armed Forces (ABRI) commander Gen. (ret) Wiranto introduced Kamra late in 1998 as part of ABRI's controversial plan to invigorate civilian militias.

Kamra members, who are male, aged between 18 and 45 and have at least junior high school diplomas, were initially trained by the military to assist police in maintaining law and order.

After completing training, Kamra members are deployed and supervised by police. They are authorized to carry out various police duties, ranging from checking ID cards, making arrests and questioning suspects.

Kamra members are not allowed to carry guns and are only equipped with rattan sticks and shields.

A Kamra member is currently paid Rp 250,000 (US$28.70) per month plus a daily allowance of Rp 3,500 for meals and transportation.

Saleh said on Saturday it was unlikely that the police would recruit any more members for Kamra, despite the fact that the police were short of personnel.

"It's better for us to recruit police personnel," Saleh said.

Many have complained and criticized the performance of Kamra members.

The members, who are required to work at their respective police posts from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., remain virtually idle except for directing traffic since they do not have a tight work schedule.

Three to four hours a day are spent directing traffic while the remaining hours are spent talking with each other at the police posts.

Some police officers also said they were confused as to what sort of work they should share with Kamra members, particularly considering their lack of knowledge on police duties.

A Kamra member, Kustoro, told the Post he wants a new job after his contract expires.

"I wouldn't mind working in any field," the 21-year-old young man said.

Another Kamra member, Tono, who is assigned with the Central Jakarta Police, also hopes to get another job, whatever it may be, in order to live in the city. He left his hometown of Cirebon, West Java, to join Kamra. (07/jaw)