Tanjung Priok & Satpol PP

Apr 17th, 2010, in Asides, by

Calls for disbanding of the Satpol PP after violence at Tanjung Priok harbour in Jakarta.

Tanjung Priok Riots- A Silver Lining in the Cloud?

Was I the only one to have mixed feelings about the rioting in Tanjung Priok?

It was very tempting, considering the character of the protagonists, FPI-led rabble and the Satpol PP, to say a plague on both their houses, but talking to Indonesians has led me, for once, to tilt in favour of 'the rabble'.

Makam Priok

The tomb is not just a historic building, in Jakarta terms, but also holds the citizens of the area in superstitious awe, for it is said that its disruption will bring tsunami type disasters on the city.
Much as the theft of the Stone of Destiny in the Fifties from Westminster Abbey had many Brits worried about the effect on the monarchy; the same with the ravens at the Tower of London. However, the Stone has journeyed back to Scotland since and all seems well, whilst the ravens defy polluted London and hang in there at the Tower.

So I can see the Priok residents' anger at the perceived threat to the tomb.

The Satpol PP, on the other hand, though they suffered more deaths in the fighting (allegedly) have got no public sympathy whatsoever. People see them on tv almost every week, putting the boot into inoffensive traders and house-holders who are unlucky enough to get in the way of property developers, who are quite rich enough already, thanks. Benteng Cina too, in western Jakarta, and not just Priok, is a recent example, with some racist overtones in view of the Chinese ethnic character of that little kampung.

I wrote on IM last year about the vandalism of the scores of little stalls that ran between Pasaraya and Panglima Polim, removed purely, it would seem, to eliminate competition with the new mall at Blok M Square. or to force the stall-holders to rent space in the mall, much more costly than their old premises. That was Satpol PP work, and everyone I spoke to, even satpams in the malls, deplored it.

There was also the case of Fifi, mentioned in my latest book, Jakarta Suckers! She was just a little teenage hooker, who ran into a river in Tangerang to escape a razia, then was kept in the water by stone-throwing PP louts, none of whom was ever charged with any crime, though she drowned as a result. I'd have shot the swine who killed her!

However, the spin-off benefit of the riot this week may be that somebody is to do something about these authorised goons.

Members of the House of Representatives on Thursday demanded the government review its public order bylaws, saying the actions of the Public Order Agency in North Jakarta a day earlier had been despicable.

It would be nice to see them disbanded, but I doubt Fauzi Bowo has the will to do so. However, any reform would be welcome.


34 Comments on “Tanjung Priok & Satpol PP”

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  1. avatar Purba Negoro says:
    April 17th, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Ross you miss the point.
    No Indonesian cares.
    Such “traders” are illegally operating. These are the ones selling contaminated foods with borax and formalin.

    They squat, then pollute Government land- to which they pay no rent or maintenance fee. They create huge litter and waterway pollution and traffic problems.
    They do not have business permits, l
    Very commonly they do not have KTP permission to reside in Jakarta Megapolitan. They do not pay rent.

    They also create foster and breed crime and premanism- the protection money mafioso etc

    They also are an unfair competition who harm legal, legitimate law-abiding businesses-a they pay no rent, tax or local government fees.
    Who foots the bill for cleaning up these horrible eyesores?
    Legitimate business and local government must clean up.

    2- the land belongs to the government and it has been more than lenient and patient with these nuisances to remove themselves voluntary since 2008.

    3. said tomb it is of no real historical value. Islam arrived in Java in 11th-12th century- of which all significant sites are Government protected and restored.

    4. Hookers opt for that life through choice. Shed tears instead for the 99.5% of women who endure poverty and hardship by earning legitimate money working without whoring themselves.

    They are an expensive nuisance and should be dealt with the same gusto as per Ali Sadikin.
    The Jakarta populace completely support Satpol.

    The government is within its rights to develop its own land for the greater good.
    As we saw wit the dreadful, long tolerated animal and flower market- in lucrative and expensive Cental Jakarta.

  2. avatar madrotter says:
    April 17th, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    purba man, damn, some of the things you say….

    i’m completely behind you ross, after tanjung priok i hope these pigs start doing their evil deeds a bit more carefully because folks now see that they can fight back when the situation is right, i got a feeling were in for a pretty hot year…

    your ears are not on the streets purba, talk to the people, listen to what they say, i do.

  3. avatar Daniella Hodge says:
    April 17th, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Ross, I cannot agree more with you.
    I remember reading a news not so long ago about a certain brutality and immorality done by a member (or probably more) of satpol.pp, while in Purba Negoro’s words : ” cleaning up these horrible eyesores”. A mother was being chased like an animal while carrying her infant. This inhumane act resulted in the infant accidentally falling into a tank filled with boilling soup. I could not breathe the first time I came across this barbarous so called “law act”.
    Satpol.pp did not do themselved any favour either this time by being exposed (thankfully!) abusing and torturing a child mercilessly. I am aware that the media and many people have address the red-shirt boy as a teenager. But to me, he’s still a small child.
    To Purba, in view of the economic and trading situation in Indonesia, I could see what you were getting at. However, you need to ask the simplest question. Is any of it worth the human lives that have been taken? The aftermath pains and sufferings of the helpless?
    As long as satpol.pp are not properly educated and disciplined and taught about the value of human lives (something I learned when I was 2 years old), tasking them to discipline other people is like unleashing hungry predators into their preys.

  4. avatar Purba Negoro says:
    April 18th, 2010 at 5:00 am

    It will only get worse.
    Fauzi Bowo, PDI-P-Gerindra-Hanura and Golkar all have major plans to tidy up this filthy city- and the ones in the way are these illegal squatters.

    1. Their quality of life would be better if they remained int heir native kampung-
    the cost of life is cheaper
    -they may actually improve their status in life by labouring then buying land for farming.

    2. They have no skills and are unemployable- already Jakarta Megapolitan has massive excess idle unskilled labour- we do not need to add to it from massive illegal internal migration.

    3. Of course many low class Indonesians are sympathetic- and also the Polisi have been caught wit trousers down and billions of US dollars
    - media depiction has not shown the event in an even-handed fashion- again due to the current issues of corruption (no implication of guilt/innocence on my part- I have no idea about the whole affair- everyone I knew in Polisi is long retired)
    =>this biases mass comprehension- superficial at best of times- about events.

    4. The reality is the government not only owns the land, but it needs this land- like that of Bogor- to improve the city for the GREATER good- not for free-riders and low-lifes.

    4B- an example- DKI Jakarta is trying to build a major flood reservoir.
    Yes it is long overdue- but finally the ball is rolling.
    Work is constantly halted. Why? idiot and illegal squatters (no right to Jakarta residency) keep rebuilding their slums the day after they were cleared out-
    and not only that have become violent- the construction workers- have been badly attacked- several hacked- luckily no limbs or lives lost- yet.

    5- I have my ear among those whose opinion and commands matter.
    Not empty headed villagers and those who want a free-ride and hand-out at every turn.
    We need to turn to Ali Sadikin tactics: “move or I shoot- I don;t give a crap about your sob stories. Preman retaliation? Yes pls. Perus Misterius lagi” .

  5. avatar berlian biru says:
    April 18th, 2010 at 6:56 am

    I think it’s rather too easy to lump all the blame for this on the shoulders of the Satpol PP, three of whose members it must be remembered were beaten to death in horrific circumstances. To read some commentators you’d believe that Satpol are an autonomous band of bullies casually moving from place to place wrecking and beating on a whim.

    Let us not forget that if you are a voter or taxpayer in Jakarta then those men are working for you, the three men killed were killed carrying out the duties asked of them by their boss, the democratically elected governorship of Jakarta. To somehow single out the “poor bloody infantry” of the Jakarta administration is to completely miss the real culprits.

    If you assemble a group of poorly educated men, give them power and authority but little training and pay them on the basis of daily contracts and then send them out to do your bidding, then who is to blame when things go wrong? You or them?

    Those of us who are taxpayers and voters in Jakarta must bear the responsibility for the mess at Tanjung Priok not the blokes at the sharp end who do the dirty work we’re unwilling to do ourselves. Three families are in deep mourning this weekend, it ill behoves us smug citizens, living in our comfortable homes to sneer at and insult the memories of their dead sons when ultimately it is we who sent them to their deaths.

  6. avatar Daniella Hodge says:
    April 18th, 2010 at 7:41 am

    To quote berlian biru “if you are a voter or taxpayer in Jakarta then those men are working for you”.
    Yes, indirectly they are. However, eventhough I can’t speak for you, I am pretty sure I speak for the majority of “us” when I say that none of us asks them to beat up a dying child.
    I think the easy way out is actually to put all the blame on the leader. As social beings living in a hierarchical environment, we accept and give orders on a daily basis. When the end result is not as expected (not what ordered), the mistake is usually found on the execution.
    “The blokes at the sharp end who do the dirty work we’re unwilling to do ourselves” ARE the ones who executed the task.
    (And just to comment on what you said, yes, I am VERY unwilling to beat up a child.)
    In the end, there are only 2 possible source of errors, the task given, or the execution.

    Are you saying that they WERE told to torture a dying and helpless child? Or to gang up on an injured man and beat him to death? Were they told to clean up the road or the graveyards or whatever it is, even if it means taking lives of civillians and causing sufferings?
    If they were, then the leader holds the bag.

    It however, does not relieve the satpol.pp any responsibility for it’s their hands who took lives. As for your comment on “poorly educated men”. I don’t think it requires much education to know that ganging up to beat up a helpless child to death is wrong.

    My condolences to the family and friends of the satpol.pp personels who lost their lives. May God give them strength to endure this terrible loss.

  7. avatar ET says:
    April 18th, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Let us not forget that if you are a voter or taxpayer in Jakarta then those men are working for you, the three men killed were killed carrying out the duties asked of them by their boss, the democratically elected governorship of Jakarta.

    Although this might be true, the eagerness with which they carry out their duties however is food for thought. The same goes for their opponents. It’s the typical Indonesian mob mentality. As soon as they are in a group, have sticks and clubs and the feeling of power takes over there’s no holds barred.

  8. avatar Ross says:
    April 18th, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    I take the point that these little stalls are probably illegal, but the response of the Satpol PP is almost always disproprotionate.
    There is no excuse for the scenes we see so often, desperately poor people trying ti scratch a living and being brutally hounded by these goons.
    Of course the three who died may well have been without fault, and if so they suffered grievously for the misdeeds of others.
    It’s not just Ross having a rail, you can see the note in my book about the NGO seeking their disbandmentment. Jakarta’s government has the power to do something about it, and since they must be aware of the problem, we have to ask why they don’t?

  9. avatar madrotter says:
    April 18th, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    “Not empty headed villagers and those who want a free-ride and hand-out at every turn.”

    where does anybody in Indonesia get a free ride? (unless you mean those “honorable mpr members) this ain’t holland where you get social security if you don’t have a job…

  10. avatar vox patria says:
    April 18th, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    Obviously we still need Satpol PP to keep some semblance of law and order in Jakarta. Otherwise, this city will be a lawless mess, with traders setting-up shop in pedestrian area, parks, or wherever they feel like, in detriment of public interests. Or squatters will start occupying any vacant lot of land regardless of who owns it.

    Their violent methods need improvement, but sometimes there is no other way to deal with these desperate mass of people who have no respect for rules and order.

  11. avatar Ross says:
    April 18th, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    The problem, vox patria, is that it is the Satpol PP who have ‘no respect for rules and order.’ When the brutes who murdered Fifi are brought to justice, I will review my attitude.

  12. avatar Odinius says:
    April 19th, 2010 at 12:09 am

    I can understand why Indonesian police would be so gung-ho: underpaid, overstretched, murky limits to their authority, little oversight, unreasonable demands, etc.

    And I feel for the families of the satpol members who were murdered–let’s call that what it is. I’m never on the side of the rioting mob, as it inevitably moves towards lynchings.

    But I can’t condone this kind of police brutality either, and Ross is absolutely correct in calling it out. Part of growing up as a democracy entails finding solutions with a minimum of violence, and which minimize–rather than provoke–violence. Many established democracies still struggle with this, but obviously Indonesia has a long way to go in this regard.

  13. avatar Erline says:
    April 19th, 2010 at 12:59 am

    I couldn’t agree more for the dismissals of these swine organization called Pol PP. They act like the group of rascals. Removing people from their properties like they were bugs or something.

    Some of us may already knows that these swines act based on the “Funds” they are given by those who hired them. Like Tanjung Priok incident, they are surely already got payment from the company who demand that sacred tomb to be removed.

    I think the death of their 3 man is not enough!

  14. avatar Oigal says:
    April 19th, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Not much sympathy for any paid thugs, however facts should still be facts.

    Removing people from their properties

    The word “their” would be very selective.

    who demand that sacred tomb to be removed

    “sacred tomb” the term sacred is pretty selective as well and to be honouring a tomb would raise interesting questions within Islam itself would it not? Why is the tomb any more special than a church in Bogor, Did it have a permit?

  15. avatar Purba Negoro says:
    April 19th, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    I can understand why Indonesian police would be so gung-ho: underpaid, overstretched, murky limits to their authority, little oversight, unreasonable demands, etc.

    How unlike the Western democracies of the UK-US.
    Somehow I am reminded of “stop an search” numbers and the Rodney King incident.

    And I feel for the families of the satpol members who were murdered–let’s call that what it is.

    Precisely- they are not folk heroes- they are illegal, violent, undesirables.
    They only rioted as they knew all eyes would be on an unarmed SatPol.
    If the BRiMob had been sent in like during the glory days of Ali Sadikin- I doubt they would have been so “brave”.

    But I can’t condone this kind of police brutality either, and Ross is absolutely correct in calling it out. Part of growing up as a democracy entails finding solutions with a minimum of violence, and which minimize–rather than provoke–violence. Many established democracies still struggle with this, but obviously Indonesia has a long way to go in this regard

    You mean, like mature democracies such as UK, Australia, US and Holland.
    Funny how all the wars and revolutions are forgotten by the Western “Goldilocks” (ooh Indonesia is too hard on crime, Indonesia is too soft on crime- *swoon* Western nations are just right).

    Peasants rebellion, English Cromwellian civil war, Luddites, American Civil War, WW1, WW2, Korea, Honduras, Nicaragua, Bay of Pigs, pre Palestinian territories Israel, Northern Ireland Troubles, Vietnam, Iran Contras, Afghanistan, Iraq 1 &2, Solomon Islands, Sierra Leone, Angola, 700+ US military bases and 14 carrier groups?

    Oh- I see- these are all “love ins”.

    Let us not forget the allegation of democratically elected & responsibility of electorate logic can be equally applied to the US-UK-Australian axis for their murderous oil-lust driven regime changes- and thus validate Osama bin Laden’s (and the other loonies) own thesis.

    Western police special powers of detention without trial, due process, proof of intent or criminality as per Northern Ireland, then the western anti-terror laws?

    But “surgical” attacks by drones where the unwanted are blown to minuscule pieces along with “collateral damage” bystanders are the “birth pangs of democracy [Condaleeza Rice]“, correct?

    Summary:
    Westerners=> loud-mouthed murderous hypocrites who complain when Indonesian law is not applied, then have the gall to whine life’s so unfair to their NGO’s when it is.
    However bad Indonesia may be (in the warped mind of the Westerner)-we kill & beat our own- not some beaten down, starved 3rd world nation to steal its resources.
    Before you mention Irian- the relevant UN decision to force the Dutch to adhere to their 1949 Agreement was held with 0 votes against. Timor was also incorporated with a UN minority of opposition.
    As compared to Iraq- where US-UK-Australia were illegal aggressors without a shred of evidence of WMD and in total violation of UN Gen Assembly and Security Council wishes.

    The West lacks the courage to apply its’ “spirit of democracy” to its own populace and Indonesia has a long way to catch up to the West’s body count.
    In other words- Westerners, particularly of the US-UK-Australia have not a toe-hold on respectability from which to comment.

    West- do the world a favour- be silent, return to your own borders and cease killing innocent foreigners by propping up convenient friendly dictators within theirs or invasion to steal their lucrative resources.

  16. avatar ET says:
    April 19th, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Yada, yada, yada. Can’t you keep to the subject without bringing world politics and history into play? The only relevant utterance in your entire rant was

    Precisely- they are not folk heroes- they are illegal, violent, undesirables.
    They only rioted as they knew all eyes would be on an unarmed SatPol.
    If the BRiMob had been sent in like during the glory days of Ali Sadikin- I doubt they would have been so “brave”.

  17. avatar Ross says:
    April 19th, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Oigal… Ya, the tomb is no more special than the church in Bogor, but the Satpol PP do nothing to protect the churches under threat, nor did they do anything at the Monas thuggery. They deserve little sympathy, and less in view of their crimes.
    If these goons would line up in defence of innocent folks instead of picking on the targets of the rich, I’d applaud them incessantly.

    Purba, you are away on a tangent, which can be great fun. If you want another thread started, you could build on this comment of mine re a very little part of your own comments above.

    ‘Korea, Honduras, Nicaragua, Bay of Pigs…’ yes, good endeavours to fight evil, but not carried through with sufficient will and force.
    Reagan was right to help the anti-totalitarian forces in the Contras, and in liberating Grenada, and Kennedy would have been blessed by almost every Cuban had he not weaseled out of air support fro the freedom fighters in 1961.

  18. avatar realest says:
    April 19th, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Anyone sitting illegally on other people’s property should be given a notice and, on expiration, should be removed effective immediately by all means.

    Stop all these western vs indonesia bullcrap. Indonesia is as savage as any other country on the planet(which actually makes it normal) when dealing with dissidents. All these farce of democracy is only a front to keep people at bay – pretty much the same way religion functions on most parts of the world.

    @Purba: I find it rather nauseous that you find the idea of beating up your own people acceptable. What you gonna do now? Ask me to go back to China? May i remind you that ancestors of Indonesia hails from Africa and, what is now known as, Taiwan?

  19. avatar Odinius says:
    April 19th, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    Purba,

    You need to read and try to grasp entire statements, not reply to specific sentences, or parts of sentences. This should have been instructive:

    Many established democracies still struggle with this

    But alas, you ignored it–probably on purpose.

    realest said:

    Stop all these western vs indonesia bullcrap. Indonesia is as savage as any other country on the planet(which actually makes it normal) when dealing with dissidents.

    Agreed. As I tried to point out, police brutality is something pretty common, even in established democracies. And it should be pointed out that democratic Indonesia has come a long way from the dark days of Suharto, and is relatively decent in comparison to a lot of other places. But it still has a long way to go, and many elements of the “deep state” of the Orde Baru are still in place and acting as authoritarian as ever. This is an example.

  20. avatar BrotherMouzone says:
    April 21st, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    I am all for peaceful solutions but I can’t help but notice the lack of alternatives in the comments on how to evict a large group of traders, preman, and their extended families who really, really, don’t want to move without the threat of force. Any ideas?

    (And don’t come out with the usual “We should provide them with an alternative piece of land somewhere else” cop out because a) they don’t want to move to an alternative site and b) Jakarta is already full)

  21. avatar Oigal says:
    April 21st, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    That is a very valid point BM. Do you have any ideas? I certainly don’t beyond sending a bunch of poorly trained and vetted yobs is asking for trouble.

  22. avatar Ross says:
    April 21st, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    And it’s not just the fact that they lack training. I must return to the Fifi story. That was just pure wickedness, condoned by the entire command structure that failed to root out the swine responsible. They should all be fired, and start afresh. Decent members could apply for jobs in a new body.

  23. avatar Odinius says:
    April 21st, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    BM said:

    I am all for peaceful solutions but I can’t help but notice the lack of alternatives in the comments on how to evict a large group of traders, preman, and their extended families who really, really, don’t want to move without the threat of force. Any ideas?

    You have somewhere for them to go. But granted, you are making an important point. However, there’s still better and worse ways for police to move or disperse crowds than just beating the **** out of them.

  24. avatar realest says:
    April 21st, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    And what do u expect those new recruits do when those, occupying spaces illegally armed with molotovs, chili-bombs and samurais barricading the main streets, refused to move out as well on the basis they’ve been there for 5-10 years and claiming to pay some land retributions? These people number tens or maybe hundreds of thousands in major cities living under – big bridges, both sides of rail roads, vacant city properties, both sides of …. basically every inch of the city that has 2×2 metres of space. You can’t reason with unreasonable people, give them a notice and remove them effective immediately by any means.
    “Being poor” shouldn’t be used as a reason to do something illegal.

  25. avatar Odinius says:
    April 21st, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    Pepper spray? Water cannons? Tear gas? Big nets? Police have plenty of tools in their arsenal that are less damaging that an ass kicking.

    Second, where’s the evidence that the crowd used violence first? I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to find out it exists, but I would be even less surprised to find out it followed police actions. Since pro-satpol arguments seem to rest on the crowd being riotous, the burden of proof lies on those who claim it was.

    For a detailed description of what is and isn’t considered justifiable force under international law–according to the conventions to which Indonesia is a signatory–please refer here:

    http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/firearms.htm

  26. avatar Ross says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 12:04 am

    If you come through West Jakarta, you do see people living under big bridges and alongside railroad tracks. They don’t appear to be doing any harm there and presumably have to live somewhere, unless you want them just to die.
    I am very, very, very far from being a pinko softy, but can see no reason to hound those folks out of their make-shift dwellings.
    Better to take a few of Bakrie’s mansions (to pay for compensation) and let them out at nominal rates to these bridge people. Better to recalim the ripped-off cars, laptops and properties held by rancid politicans and sell them to build more rumah susuns.

  27. avatar BrotherMouzone says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    @Odinius

    Pepper spray? Water cannons? Tear gas? Big nets? Police have plenty of tools in their arsenal that are less damaging that an ass kicking.

    Actually, those first three are pretty much variations on an ass-kicking. Like I say, I’d love to think that there is a peaceable solution to vacating this land, I just haven’t seen a convincing one yet.

    @Ross

    you do see people living under big bridges and alongside railroad tracks. They don’t appear to be doing any harm there and presumably have to live somewhere, unless you want them just to die.

    I don’t think anyone wants them to die. But if the leadership of Jakarta has any sorts of vision for the capital, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t include plywood cities under its bridges and beggars at every traffic light.

    I imagine that the government figures (rightly or wrongly) that if they make life in the capital uncomfortable enough for the homeless and new arrivals from the villages, then eventually the myth of Jakarta’s streets being paved with gold will perish, people will go home, people will stop arriving, and the city will one day achieve a sustainable population level.

    I didn’t say it was a realistic plan…

  28. avatar BrotherMouzone says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    @ Ross

    Better to take a few of Bakrie’s mansions (to pay for compensation) and let them out at nominal rates to these bridge people. Better to recalim the ripped-off cars, laptops and properties held by rancid politicans and sell them to build more rumah susuns.

    Socialist ;)

  29. avatar Odinius says:
    April 22nd, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    BM said:

    Actually, those first three are pretty much variations on an ass-kicking. Like I say, I’d love to think that there is a peaceable solution to vacating this land, I just haven’t seen a convincing one yet.

    Except that pepper spray doesn’t generally leave permanent damage. Being beaten to death does.

    The fact is that sometimes police have to disperse crowds that won’t protest peacefully. To do so, though, it’s incumbent upon them to be as non-violent as possible. Satpol took the worst possible alternate route.

  30. avatar Ross says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 1:42 am

    They seem to like that approach, Odinius!

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