Fri, 03 Dec 1999

Nightspots urged to stop business during Ramadhan

BOGOR (JP): Local authorities have suggested owners of all entertainment centers here agree to demands aired by different organizations recently and temporarily close their businesses prior to and during the Ramadhan fasting month.

"We were tipped-off a couple of days ago that mobs would burn the nightspots here (should the management fail to meet their calls)," E. Rukanda, head of Bogor's social and political office, told reporters here on Thursday.

A willingness to close their establishments for a time would help calm the people, who have repeatedly threatened to attack them and have actively declared war against immorality in their town, he said.

Different groups of local people have set a deadline of Saturday this week for the owners to have shut down their businesses.

They have actually demanded that the nightspots, which they claim are used for sex and drug transactions, close forever, instead of only during the fasting month, as suggested by Rukanda.

According to Rukanda, the night spots mentioned by the groups to be in danger of arson attacks are, among others, the Puri Mira dangdut music hall in Tajur; Sukasari Karaoke, Spektrum Discotheque and Raja In Hotel on Jl. Padjajaran; and Bambu In motel and Pondok Nirmala on Jl. Raya Kemang.

As of Thursday, tension was still evident in Bogor as well as at several spots in the nearby Cipanas resort area of Puncak, following attacks against similar establishments earlier last month and the mass "anti-vice" rally on Tuesday.

The mountainous area of Puncak and Bogor have long been favorite weekend spots for Jakartans. In the past few years they have witnessed a mushrooming growth of new hotels, nightclubs, discotheques, dancing halls, motels and villas.

Local people have accused such places of being centers of drug dealing, prostitution and gambling.

Rukanda said, "In a bid to anticipate further disputes, the administration has indeed summoned the management of the places.

"They have been ordered to hang 'anti narcotic, liquor and prostitution' banners outside their establishments to avoid possible frenzied attacks by mobs."

So far, several nightspots in Bogor have already fulfilled the summons by posting such signs in front of their premises, he said.

Besides hanging banners, the management, through event coordinators and disc jockeys, must urge visitors not be involved in drug dealing or prostitution when in the buildings, he said.

"We also hope that owners of the establishment will comply with the order and close them down for the whole fasting month," Rukanda said.

Ramadhan this year is expected to start next Thursday.

Rukanda, however, admitted that it was impossible to shut down the entertainment spots for the entire fasting month because many people, including the people employed in such places, would suffer.

"The workers are expecting money to celebrate Idul Fitri," he said.

Moreover, the existing regulation stipulates that the entertainment spots must be closed for only three days before Ramadhan begins and three days after Idul Fitri.

"While in the fasting month, it all depends on the business owners. Let's just hope that everything goes peacefully," he said.

Dozens of angry rioters destroyed and burned 13 hotels and entertainment centers in Cipayung and Cisarua subdistricts in November, following reports they were used as brothels and centers for drug distribution.

More than 2,000 workers lost their jobs as a result of the rioting.

A similar attack occurred in the nearby town of Bekasi on Monday, where at least 20 houses allegedly used as brothels were ransacked and three kiosks were set on fire by a 500-strong mob.

Up until Thursday police have not yet made any arrests.

Bogor Police also have been unable to identify the people who burned and destroyed the hotels and night spots in Cipayung and Cisarua, saying that "the attack was a collective movement". (21/edt)