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Kuta's Security Under the Spotlight

Violent Incident at Kuta Nightspot Prompts Closer Look at Area's Security by Local Officials and Community Leaders.

(6/13/2005) An incident involving gang violence at Fuel Bar on Jalan Legian in Kuta in the early hours of Sunday, June 6, 2005, has evoke a strong response from community leaders, police and civic leaders concerned at the deteriorating security situation in Kuta and calling for tough action against law-breakers.

According to local press reports, altercations between local youth gangs and security guards, that began on Friday, June 3rd, came to a head in the early hours of Sunday morning a group of young thugs carrying sharp weapons and bottles attacked the up-market bar and music lounge. Fighting reportedly erupted both in the bar and the surrounding streets causing an entire platoon of riot police to respond and close the street while they brought the situation under control.

A number of people were injured in the melee, including a security guard from Fuel who was hospitalized with serious cuts and contusions.

Police Chief Pastika Responds

Clearly angered at the arrogance of those involved in "organized crime" in Bali's night-life areas, Bali's Chief of Police Irjen. Drs. Made Mangku Pastika was quoted in the local press on the Monday following the fracas, saying, "I have heard the those causing the unrest at Fuel Bar numbered 60 people. Catch them all, throw them into jail cells, and show them no toleration!"

At the same time, the Police Chief warned his subordinates not to treat those causing the unrest lightly, eventually letting them go without formal charges being laid against them. Bali's top law enforcement officer said that weakness on the part of the Police feeds the conceit of gang members and becomes a point of reference for other gangs. Saying gang and organized crime was now beyond tolerable limits, Chief Pastika said, "(Even) uniformed law enforcement members are being targeted. They have gone overboard, arrest them all!"

Need for Special Tourism Security Teams

Bali's Chief of Police, Made Mangku Pastika, is calling for the creation of "SATPAM Pariwisata" or special tourism security guards as a necessary step to improve security in Kuta and surrounding areas.

Most Balinese businesses already have private security guard services or "SATPAM," who Chief Pastika would now like to see given special training. Ideally, these guards would be recruited from the local community youth who are currently unemployed, trained in the systems of community policing and taught how to handle public order situations.

Comments by Tourism and Community Leader

I Nyoman Rutha Ady, a local community leader and Head of the local chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurnant Association (PHRI-Badung), called on the people of Kuta to be open and honest in reviewing the security situation in their neighborhoods.

Urging the police, local government, local citizens and businesspeople to cooperate in creating a wide-ranging and effective approach to security, Rutha Ady pointed to an underlying situation of of poor security running rampant in Kuta. Admitting that the incident at Fuel Bar was unfortunate and unacceptable, he suggested the security problem may be deeper rooted, pointing to the growing boldness of illegal money changers and the inability of law enforcement to end such activities. He asked: "Why can't we (even) stop such open fraud, expecially when the trend shows (illegal money changers) are becoming more aggressive and bold enough to practice their crimes in public places?"

Arrests Made

In the week following the unrest in Kuta, police authorities have confirmed that eight individuals have been formally named as suspects in the incident with one, named Gadjah, now formally listed as "wanted" and sought by police.

A police spokesman did not rule out the possibility of further arrests being made as their investigation of the incident continues.