Sat, 03 Jun 2000

Sutiyoso disappointed at renewed Matraman brawls

JAKARTA (JP): Governor Sutiyoso said on Friday that he was deeply disappointed at the fresh outbreaks of mass brawls between two neighborhoods near Jl. Matraman Raya, East Jakarta, in spite of a joint forum to bridge the two communities.

Sutiyoso recalled that he personally inaugurated the Matraman Residents Communication Forum (FKPMM) on May 7 to reconcile the Palmeriam and Kebon Manggis neighborhoods which have had a long history of destructive inter-fighting.

The governor visited the area to inspect the damage caused by the brawls that erupted on Thursday. He talked to residents of Kebon Manggis and conducted Friday prayers at a local mosque. East Jakarta Mayor Andi Mapaganti escorted the governor.

After the prayers, Sutiyoso gave Mapaganti an ultimatum to restore peace and order in the area or lose his job.

Many shops along the Jl. Matraman thoroughfare reopened for business on Friday morning as a police patrol car stood by.

The two neighborhoods stand opposite each other across the busy Jl. Matraman.

Six people were injured in the latest clashes between the two neighborhoods on Thursday which saw the use of Molotov cocktails and sickles by both parties. The fight began after Palmeriam residents accused Kebon Manggis people of injuring a South Jakarta man in their area.

Mapaganti told reporters that he was prepared to be dismissed from his job if the governor considered him a failure.

"I would take similar measures. If one of my staff failed to perform his duty, I would sack him," he said.

He added, however, that Sutiyoso considered that he and the district and subdistrict chiefs had done their utmost to end the long drawn-out conflict between the two neighborhoods.

The efforts included raising a two-meter high iron fence on the median strip along Jl. Matraman and the provision of sports equipment to encourage residents to turn their energy to positive activities, he said.

The forum's co-head, Moh. Hasanuddin from Kebon Manggis, asked the mayoralty to extend the iron fence all the way to Jl. Pramuka considering that the clashes often occurred opposite the Gramedia book store.

Hasanuddin proposed the establishment of a watch post, to be jointly managed by the two neighborhoods, at the Gramedia building.

"We will improve our approach, focusing on the young people because they triggered the unrest," he said.

He said the forum would also bring in the role of families and religion in bringing peace in the two neighborhoods. (06)