Tue, 14 Nov 2000

Nightspot owners say they will fight back

JAKARTA (JP): Nightspot owners pledged on Monday to get tough, saying they would hire 1,000 private guards to combat the spate of attacks by radical religious groups.

The secretary-general of the Association of Nightspot Operators, Adrian Maelite, said the civilian guards would consist of security guards already employed at nightspots and residents living near the entertainment spots.

Adiran said the private security guards would receive special training from police on Nov. 20, "so they will not act brutally against these groups (of attackers)".

He contended that nightspot owners were forced to take this measure because police had done little to ensure the safety of their establishments from repeated mob attacks.

"For about the last eight months, we have been receiving pressure from a radical group. Many of our places have been raided and attacked by a certain group and the police never arrest anyone in these incidents," Adrian said.

Adrian's remarks come in the wake of recurring attacks by religious groups on establishments which the groups claim are a source of prostitution and drugs.

The latest attack occurred at JJ Duit in Central Jakarta on Sunday. In this incident, a mob claiming to be from the Front Hizbullah vandalized the club. The attackers departed before the police arrived.

Many anticipate the situation will heat up when the fasting month of Ramadhan begins. Several groups have demanded that nightspots remain closed during the month.

Adrian and managers of large entertainment spots in the capital, including Raja Mas discotheque and Stadium nightclub in West Jakarta, along with the management of JJ Duit, aired their grievances during a meeting with Governor Sutiyoso on Monday.

They demanded the governor ensure security, claiming they had already received threats that their businesses would be torched if they remained open during the fasting month.

Adrian said he also reported to the governor the presence of leaflets, said to be distributed by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), calling Sutiyoso a "Little Tyrant" for not being willing to close the nightspots.

"They also distributed papers demanding we agree to close down during the fasting month," Adrian added.

City spokesman Muhayat said the city administration sent an official letter on Monday to Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Muljono Sulaiman asking police to take stern measures against groups distributing "provocative" leaflets.


Inside sources told The Jakarta Post these religious groups often blackmailed nightspot owners.

"They once asked me, through a messenger, for Rp 40 million (US$4,300) to keep them from raiding my place. Of course, I refused to give them the money because it would not solve the problem as they would come back for more," the source said.

"They often come to my office for money. Although they do not say it straight out, I know they want it," the source added.

Another source confirmed this, saying some nightspot owners who were willing to pay usually were able to keep their businesses open during the Islamic holidays.

"They pay around Rp 50 million each time the group comes and asks for money, so these places never receive any threats from them," the source said.

When contacted by the Post on Monday, FPI South Jakarta coordinator Jaffar Sidiq admitted his group had distributed the leaflets, and said they would not hesitate to follow through with their threats if Sutiyoso allowed the nightspots to remain open during Ramadhan.

"Yes, we are ready to burn these places down because we will do anything to prevent a disturbance of the holy month. If Sutiyoso allows these places to stay open, he is going against the will of Muslims," he charged.

Jaffar contended some nightspots operators already had stated their willingness to close down during the fasting month, so it was up to the governor to make the final decision.

When asked about the reported "extortion", Jaffar said his group was often accused of such activities, but maintained FPI members never engaged in blackmail.

"We want to eliminate these places and it is haram (forbidden by Islamic law) to take money from them. People intentionally spread negative stories about us to tarnish our image," Jaffar maintained. (dja)