Mon, 13 Jun 1994

Unemployment conflicts with Operation Cleansing

JAKARTA (JP): The ongoing Operation Cleansing will not be able to completely crack down on crime as long as unemployment prevails, Governor Surjadi Soedirdja says.

"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 enough. 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 come every day from outside Jakarta to make a living, he said.

As far as the gap between the migrants and job opportunities prevails, criminal activities will continue unabated, meaning Operation Cleansing will never be able to completely accomplish its goal of stopping crime, he added.

Like Surjadi, experts have repeatedly observed that unless the high unemployment rate is attacked, Operation Cleansing will only succeed temporarily.

In his response, Maj. Gen. Hendropriyono promised that the operation will go on without any specified deadline.


Surjadi said that because of the prevalent poverty he has decided to put population affairs as his administrations top priority.

The municipality, he said, will gradually change slum areas to apartments so that many people can live decently.

"There is no alternative for us but living in apartments. There is too little idle space remaining," 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 idle state land.

"It is easy to handle if the squatters are only two. If they turn up in a great number, 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 thus far has happened 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. If we are later removed from there, we are entitled to some damages and even to apartments'," said Surjadi.

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