Sat, 29 Mar 2003

Police force get grooming tips in new raid deal

Zakki Hakim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The police have vowed to take care when raiding hotels and restaurants in Indonesia so as not to damage the establishments' reputations and hurt their businesses.

The pledge is part of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) chairperson Yanti Sukamdani and National Police chief Da'i Bachtiar on Thursday.

Under the MOU, which spells out standard operation procedures for raids on hotels and restaurants, the police will coordinate with management before conducting raids and will not invite television journalists to cover the action.

This is not applicable in drug busts.

The MOU came following rising concerns among many hoteliers and restaurant owners that raids by the police, who are often accompanied by television journalists, have tarnished their reputations and hurt their businesses.

"Fear of being raided and publicly exposed on television has made guests feel reluctant to stay in hotels or visit a restaurant.

"We support the police measures to fight crime but the method of raids is not productive for tourism, which is already suffering," PHRI secretary general Adnan Karamoy said last month.

Following the signing ceremony on Thursday, Da'i said the police could understand such concerns.

"Hotel owners naturally aim to provide comfort for their guests. Therefore, in taking security measures, we (the police) must take an extra careful approach to avoid any kind of loss for the hotels."

However, he warned hoteliers against using the MOU as a pretext to allow crimes, such as prostitution and gambling, to take place in hotels.

State Minister for Culture and Tourism I Gde Ardika, who witnessed the signing ceremony, welcome the MOU, saying it would be helpful to develop the country's tourism industry.

According to Yanti, aside from setting standard raid procedures, the MOU also stipulates that police train hotel and restaurant personnel in securing their workplaces effectively.

In return, the association will teach police officers English, hospitality and grooming.

Yanti said she was optimistic that thanks to the MOU, more people would stay in hotels in the future and the country's hotel occupancy rate would improve.

Yanti said the Bali bombing last year had dealt a heavy blow to the country's tourism industry. The Iraq war, which came when the country was beginning to recover, has again brought the industry into the doldrums.

The country's hotel occupancy rate now averages 45 percent, a slight decrease from 50 percent in the week before the war, Yanti said.