Tue, 19 Dec 2000

Over 1,000 Kamra members threaten to run amok

JAKARTA (JP): More than 1,000 civilian guards of the People's Security (Kamra) from Jakarta and Central Java threatened on Monday to run amok if the government does not give assurances about their future in the next three days.

"If the government doesn't come up with a decision on Dec. 20, act as if you are hungry lions!" representative of the Central Java group, P.D. Prihanto said in tears to other members using a microphone at the Jakarta Police Headquarters.

Later in the day the civilian guards staged a rally at the House of Representatives compound.

"And if that should happen, other Kamra members all over the country will come to Jakarta to join us," Prihanto who claims to represent a total of 3,791 Kamra members in Central Java added.

The situation was very emotional as many Kamra members were crying.

Kamra members in Jakarta were joined by their colleagues from several regencies in Central Java including Klaten, Sukoharjo, Sragen, Demak, Kendal and Wonogiri in protest, and who have camped out at police headquarters since Sunday.

They are demanding the government provide them with jobs at the end of their service at the end of the year.

"We have families to feed," one of several banners brought by the Kamra members read.

Director General of Human Resources at the Ministry of Defense Rear Marshal Bachruddin who met with the Kamra members at police headquarters on Monday advised the men to go home to their hometowns.

"The government has invited governors and city police chiefs from all over the country to talk about Kamra this Wednesday. So I advise you to go home," Bachruddin said. "Staying here will not solve the problem."

The Kamra members were fed by the city police during their stay at the police headquarters.

The men, however, refused to leave the multi-purpose field at the headquarters where they have been staying in tents.

As a symbolic show of protest the Kamra members handed over their knives which they had been equipped with, along with their letters of contract to the police.

Kamra was established during the tenure of then minister of Defense and Security/Armed Forces Commander Gen. (ret) Wiranto in 1998, as part of the plan to bolster security in the country due to lack of security personnel.

Kamra members, equipped with rattan sticks and shields, are authorized to carry out various police duties, ranging from checking ID cards, making arrests and questioning suspects.

They are currently paid Rp 250,000 (US$26) per month plus a daily allowance of Rp 3,500 for meals and transportation.

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.

With the end of their period of service approaching, Kamra members have been asking the government to give them new jobs.

The government has promised that 16,000 of 36,000 Kamra members would be employed by the Jakarta administration as public order (Tramtib) officers and in private companies, such as PT Astra Motors, as security guards.

The future of the remaining members however remains uncertain.(jaw)