Tue, 15 Aug 2000

Parties' task forces ready to end gambling

JAKARTA (JP): Task forces of major political parties have expressed their readiness to deploy their private troops to help the Jakarta Administration in its efforts to close down gambling dens in the capital.

Speaking separately, executives of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), the Nahdlatul Ulama's youth wing, GP Ansor, and United Development Party (PPP) said the city authorities, who recently received no support from police, needed assistance with its raids against gambling operators.

Therefore, they said, their parties have no reluctance to dispatch their tens of thousands of task force members to escort the city's Public Order personnel in the anti-gambling raids.

"If the administration asks us for help, we will gladly join their raids," said deputy chief of the Jakarta chapter of PDI Perjuangan Ishak Iskandar.

Ishak suggested good coordination with the police to avoid problems and misunderstandings.

"The raid must be conducted under one command, which is the administration, and the police should be informed to avoid any misinterpretation of our participation," he said, adding that his party's task force has some 10,000 personnel in the capital.

If necessary, PDI Perjuangan would arm its personnel with wooden clubs for self-defense, Ishak added.

GP Ansor's task force chief, Tatang Hidayat, offered similar support.

According to him, his group -- as part of society -- would do its best to secure the administration's policies and programs, including halting illegal activities, such as gambling.

"Such activities are also forbidden in Islamic teaching. We will fully support the administration," Tatang said.

But, he added, GP Ansor with its 10,000 personnel in the city will use different methods in helping Jakarta curb gambling.

"We'll use persuasive means by approaching people allegedly involved in the gambling practices to deter them. We believe that the tongue is sharper than a sword," Tatang added.

At a media conference on Saturday, Djaffar Badjeber of PPP said: "We are ready to deploy our personnel to support the administration's program," adding that the party's security force in Jakarta currently numbers some 5,000 people.

In response to public willingness to assist the authorities, Governor Sutiyoso said that he strongly approved the plan of the parties.

"We welcome any public support. It can be in the form of information or reinforcement. However, the reinforcement must be strictly under the administration's command," he said.

Sutiyoso insisted that his administration and personnel had nothing to fear in conducting raids against amusement centers involved in gambling, even if they are linked to people with power.

"Their resistance last week showed that there are powerful people behind the businesses," he told reporters on Monday.

"We plan to continue the raids," Sutiyoso said.

Last Wednesday, nine personnel from the City Public Order office were slightly injured by guards of several amusement centers during efforts, without the police, to seal gambling dens at Mangga Dua Harco electronics center in Central Jakarta. (lup)