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