Thu, 27 May 2004

Police get tough on gambling

Evi Mariani, Jakarta

The Jakarta Police have detained a total of 138 suspects engaged in gambling activities since January in an apparent effort to improve the image of the force, following media reports saying that police have turned a blind eye to existing gambling dens in the capital.

"In our latest raids from May 21 to May 25, we detained 46 people from around 250 nabbed in three gambling dens," the city police spokesman Sr. Comr. Prasetyo told reporters.

Earlier in the operation, police detained 92 suspects in 15 raids on gambling dens across the capital.

Police raided two gambling dens in Grenvil Complex in Kebon Jeruk, West Jakarta, and another at a shop-house on Jl. Cut Mutia, West Bekasi on Monday through Tuesday.

From Grenvil, the police confiscated 96 poker machines locally known as Mickey Mouse and Rp 4.92 million (US$531) in cash while from Jl. Cut Mutia they only sized Rp 3.2 million in cash.

"We also raided a den in Duta Merlin complex in Central Jakarta on May 21. From the den, we confiscated 134 poker machines and Rp 580,000 in cash," Prasetyo said.

"The reports show that raids on gambling dens are routine operations for the police. We are intent on fighting against gambling operations and will not tolerate any violators," he added.

Prasetyo, however, denied that the intensive operations were because of a circular issued by National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar in April, requesting all provincial police chiefs to curb gambling activities in their respective areas.

"The perception that the police have been conducting raids on gambling dens because of the chief's order is not correct," he said.

Despite their intensive operation, critics say that while they raid some gambling dens, they still allow other establishments to operate freely, as reported by several national newspapers on Monday.