Mon, 13 Jun 1994

Seven foreigners busted in gambling sting

JAKARTA (JP): Five Malaysians, a Hong Kong and a Taiwanese man, along with 231 locals were arrested in gambling dens in Pluit North Jakarta. They were nabbed in raids carried out by a joint, city military-police team in the wee hours of the morning, Saturday.

The 40-member Operation Cleansing team from the Jakarta Chapter for the Agency of the Support for National Stability (Bakorstanasda Jaya), led by Lt. Col. RR Simbolon from the City Military Headquarters, also seized cash totaling Rp 44.9 million (US$20,883) and gambling game sets at the Lucky Plaza building on Jl. Pluit Indah Jaya.

According to spokesman of the City Military Headquarters, Lt. Col. Didi Supandi, the owners of the dens were also arrested.

The owners were identified as Willy and Taslim.

During the sting operation, the owners of the gambling dens, believed to have a daily turnover reaching to at least Rp 1 billion ($465,116), attempted to bribe officers of the team, said Didi.

"But, Simbolon and his team ignored their offers," he said.

According to the spokesman, none of the arrested crowd were members of the Armed Forces (ABRI).

"So far, we also found no evidence that theses illegal gambling dens were backed by certain parties, thus far," he said cryptically.

The two-hour morning raid started around 1:30 a.m.

All of the suspected gamblers, including 43 females, were put together at nine military trucks heading to the team headquarters at the City Military Headquarters.

After a brief questioning, the suspects were later brought to the City Police Headquarters for further investigation.

When the team came through the scene along with local television crew, the suspects were playing a wide range of gambling games, such as roulette, dominoes and cards.

Didi said that the raid were committed based on an information from the public.

None of the suspects were able to find a means for escape as all of the exit doors were blockaded by the team personnel.


It was the first big crackdown on gambling by Operasi Bersih since Maj. Gen. Hendropriyono, Jakarta's military commander, recently announced the operation expanded its target into gambling.

The initial targets of the operation is drunkards, alcohol and drug dealers as well as common thieves.

In a related development, Governor Surjadi Soedirdja said Friday that the operation would not be able to completely crack down on crime as long as there was a high rate of unemployment and underemployment.

"The facts show that despite the aggressive operation, robberies on the public buses continue," Surjadi said during his visit to Senen and Kramat subdistricts, Central Jakarta, over the weekend.

The governor inspects two subdistricts every Friday.

Surjadi noted that the rise in criminal activity, which propelled the launching of Operasi Bersih under the sponsorship of the Jakarta Military Command on April 11, was a consequence of the rise in the unemployment rate. He said it also indicates that the city is already unable to house its residents.

"It is clear the city is already full. The migrants have far outnumbered the job opportunities available. This has forced many people, especially the less educated, to resort to crime," said the governor.

At present, there are 8.5 million people registered as city residents and another 1.5 million people who commute from outside Jakarta every day to make a living, he said.

Surjadi said that as long as the gap between the migrants and job opportunities existed, criminal activity would continue unabated. He added that this meant that Operation Cleansing would never be able to completely accomplish its goal of stopping crime.

Like Surjadi, experts have repeatedly noted that unless the high unemployment rate is attacked, Operation Cleansing will only be a quick fix for crime.

In his response, Maj. Gen. Hendropriyono promised that the operation will continue for an indefinite period.


Surjadi said that because of the prevalent poverty he has decided to set population affairs as his administration's top priority.

The municipality, he said, will gradually change slum areas to apartments so a large number of people can live decently.

"There is no alternative for us but living in apartments. There is too little idle space left," Surjadi told the residents of both subdistricts.

To discourage the less-educated people from migrating to the city, Surjadi told the subdistricts' officials to constantly keep a close watch on their area to prevent newcomers from settling down on unused state land.

"It is an easy problem to deal with if there are only one or two squatters. If they turn up in large great numbers, there will be "stone wars" when we try to remove them from even the land which does not belong to them," said Surjadi.

He specifically referred to the recent stone-throwing incidents in West Tebet subdistrict, where some 230 families living on state land have refused to move from the area after their homes were razed by a mysterious fire.

The police failed to occupy the land by force after a tear-gas hurling and stone throwing melee with the residents, who turned down an apartment plan proposed by the municipality which would leave most of them homeless.

Surjadi said the difficulty in settlement faced by the less- educated migrants would in turn deter other people from migrating to the city.

"What has happened so far is the migrants have persuaded their fellow villagers to follow them, saying 'Let's go in mass to Jakarta. We can settle down on state land. Even if we are eventually kicked off, we will be entitled to damages and perhaps even to apartments'," said Surjadi.

Surjadi said the harsh methods he ordered his staff to use are not inhumane. (bsr/jsk)