Sat, 10 Jul 2004

Policy on amusement center opposed

Multa Fidrus, Tangerang

Mayor Wahidin Halim's decision to relocate all existing entertainment venues to the Pinangsia business and shopping district in Karawaci has come up against some strong opposition.

Councilor Doni Astoto from the coalition faction said the shopping district that lies on the border of Tangerang municipality and Tangerang regency was surrounded by a residential area.

"I think it would be wiser if the mayor stopped issuing permits for more entertainment venues, their presence has more negative implications than benefits," he said on Friday.

The decision to designate Pinangsia as an entertainment center, bringing together massage parlors, cafes, pubs, nightclubs, karaoke lounges, billiard halls and spas, was stipulated in the mayor's decree issued on June 10.

Many people have protested the decree, fearing that it would pave the way for unscrupulous businesspeople to open illicit night spots.

Doni said the council had suggested the administration reevaluate its decision.

"I doubt the relocation would reduce prostitution practices. When former mayor M. Thamrin prohibited entertainment venues here, dozens of nightspots opened within a few years," he remarked.

Municipal administration spokesman Chaerudin said on Friday that the mayor would postpone the implementation of the decree indefinitely.

"He said that in a meeting with a number of ulemas, public figures, non-governmental organizations and students on Wednesday," he added.

However, the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), the Solidarity for Tangerang Muslim Community (SMIT) and the Indonesian National Youth Committee (KNPI) have declared their support of the decree, which they say would serve as a legal means to tighten control over entertainment venues in the municipality.