Tue, 31 Oct 2000

Residents told to be alert to troublemakers

JAKARTA (JP): In an effort to settle the prolonged rift between neighboring Palmeriam and Kebon Manggis subdistricts in Matraman area, East Jakarta, Governor Sutiyoso called on local residents to identify and keep an eye on the "provocateurs".

"In every fight there would be agitators and residents should identify these 'creatures' and watch over them more carefully. I am sure we can prevent more brawls by doing so," Sutiyoso told journalists after having dinner with some 100 Matraman residents at his office on Sunday evening.

He said each brawl was triggered by minor incidents and had no political, racial or other sensitive motives.

"I really believe local residents can solve their problems by themselves because the way I see it, there are no big problems among them," he said.

Matraman is notorious for its never-ending brawls since years ago. The brawls usually break out along the busy Jl. Matraman Raya.

Some residents have moved out of the area because of increasing brutality as locals now arm themselves with Molotov cocktails, air rifles, machetes and other kinds of weapons. In some clashes, they had also damaged and burned buildings.

The city administration has made efforts to end the rift by arranging meetings, holding sports events and facilitating a truce between the feuding neighbors, but to no avail.

The local government has even erected a two-meter-high steel fence along the median strip of Jl. Matraman Raya .

Sutiyoso also promised on Sunday to provide more sports equipments and musical instruments for the residents and help finance the operating costs of a badminton court in the area.

"However, all of these efforts will only help settle the fight physically but to really settle the rift, each resident should have the will to do so," he said. (dja)