Sat, 18 Mar 2000

Police to protect legislators and House complex

JAKARTA (JP): The National Police agreed on Friday to demands to step up security at the House of Representatives.

According to a security agreement reached by House Speaker Akbar Tandjung and National Police chief Lt. Gen. Rusdihardjo, the House building will be closed to nonmembers, including demonstrators, after 6 p.m.

"We will take stern action if groups forcibly try to stay at this honorable building," Akbar, who also chairs the Golkar Party, said.

Both Akbar and Rusdihardjo ruled out the possibility of allowing House legislators to carry firearms to protect themselves.

Akbar admitted the security agreement was in response to two recent shooting incidents at the House.

In the latest incident on Monday, a bullet struck a window in a corridor on the first floor of the 23-story building that leads to House Commission V for trade, industry, manpower, cooperatives and investment. The incident took place minutes after former president Soeharto's youngest son, Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, entered the room for a hearing with commission members.

On Feb. 7, a bullet broke a window in the office of United Development Party (PPP) legislator Suryadharma Ali on the 16th floor of the building.

Rusdihardjo said the police were still investigating the two shootings.

Akbar said it was difficult for House security guards to maintain order in the building if it was crowded with protesters.

Hundreds of former workers of shoemaker PT Kong Tai Indonesia in Tangerang, West Java, occupied the House for almost a month to demand compensation after the company, a license holder of Reebok, was closed by its Hong Kong owner.

Earlier, a group of students claiming to represent City Forum (Forkot) held a sit-in at the House to protest the government's plan to increase electricity rates and the price of gasoline.

Rusdiharjo said that following the attempted murder of People's Consultative Assembly deputy speaker Matori Abdul Djalil earlier this month, the police also would increase patrols at the official and private residences of legislators.

The demand for increased security first arose following the killing of PPP legislator Tengku Nashruddin Daud, whose body was found on Jan. 25 in Medan, North Sumatra.

Rusdiharjo said the police investigation showed Nashruddin was slain by four unidentified men in Tuntungan, near a racetrack in Medan, a few days before his body was dumped.

He said police had questioned 21 witnesses, but had not yet named any suspects because "the witnesses were not cooperative during questioning". (jun)