Thu, 20 Mar 2003

`Thugs should be shot dead, if necessary'

Many people fear that Jakarta could become a city of fear if the authorities do not take action against thugs. They envision a city where good, honest citizens cannot leave their homes, held prisoner by emboldened thugs who roam the streets with absolute impunity. The Jakarta Post spoke with several city residents who have had run-ins with hoodlums.

Sahrul, 29, is a sidewalk vendor in Jatinegara, East Jakarta, who sells toys. He lives nearby with his wife and daughter:

I think something has to be done to fight hoodlumism in the city. These thugs are a burden to us vendors.

In a way I can understand what they do, as they are just trying to make some money to live. But I think they should get jobs and work like everyone else rather than extorting money from vendors. It's unfair.

We all have a tough time trying to survive. If they extort money from us that means we are working not only for our own families, but also for them.

Worse still, if we refuse to give them money they make trouble.

They make us pay them protection money, but we pay them money and they don't protect us or stop the public order officers from evicting us. They don't do anything to stop it so why should we keep giving them money?

The police should be more serious about combating them. At the least, the police shouldn't set a bad example by backing up the hoodlums or even taking money from them.

Supri, 30, is a public minivan driver working between Pademangan, North Jakarta, and Kota, West Jakarta. He lives in Pademangan, North Jakarta, with his wife and two children:

I'd like to see a crackdown on thugs, who threaten the safety of city residents.

I have to give more than Rp 8,000 a day to hoodlums who say they are guarding my route.

I have been paying this money for years, so I don't even feel like I'm being extorted anymore. Well, as long as they protect drivers it's not a problem, and so far their promises of protection have been somewhat true.

I also have to pay Rp 1,000 to the middlemen who help me find passengers. In this case they really help me so I can't complain about it.

I just don't like thugs who try to show how tough they are by threatening and pushing around drivers. We have seen those kinds of hoodlums before and it is something that causes bus drivers concern. The thugs around here aren't too harsh these days and there seem to be fewer of them, thanks to security forces who recently raided the hoodlums.

Antok, 40, works as a shop assistant in South Jakarta. He lives in Tangerang, Banten, with his wife and son:

I am in total agreement that something must be done to combat hoodlumism in the city. These thugs threaten the safety of residents, especially in public places.

If necessary they should be shot dead to make the city more peaceful.

Olan, 32, sells VCDs on the sidewalk in front of Harco Market in Glodok, Central Jakarta. He lives in Ciputat, South Jakarta, with his wife and two children:

I'm happy to note that there are only a few hoodlums here following intensive police raids.

A few days ago five more thugs were nabbed and brought to some social rehabilitation center. I'm not sure if that will work or if they will just go back to being thugs once they are released.

But I appreciate the efforts of the police.

Fortunately, the hoodlums have never gotten rough with me. But I admit that I always pay about Rp 3,000 daily to a vendors' organization for security.

I don't think it's a problem because the organization always sides with the vendors in cases of eviction and security. So the hoodlums here never extort the vendors.

But that does not mean thugs do not threaten city residents in general. Therefore, I completely agree with the operation to combat thuggery, to make residents feel more secure to come shopping here.

-- Leo Wahyudi S