Losing Out to Thuggery

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Bekasi city administration’s decision to give a mandate to thugs disguising as mass organizations to collect parking fees at minimarkets, simply makes no sense. As well as not being effective in contributing to regional coffers, this practice nurtures thuggery and worries the public.

    The giving of this permit was uncovered after a demonstration by mass organizations at a minimarket near a gas station in Jalan Raya Narogong, Rawalumbu, Bekasi, West Java, on October 23. A crowd that was blocking the road demanded the right to manage the parking at the minimarket. Rather than rejecting mob pressure, the head of the Bekasi City Revenue Agency, Aan Suhanda, as seen in a video that went viral on social media, asked the managers of the minimarket to work with the mass organization.

    It subsequently came to light that the Bekasi City Revenue Agency had issued documents that came into force between the middle of August and the end of September authorizing the collection of parking fees at 150 minimarkets by several mass organizations. Under the system of sharing income, the city government was to receive 40 percent of the total funds collected. Following criticism of this, the Bekasi city administration said that the permits had been revoked because the amounts collected were insignificant.

    Using the services of mass organizations to collect parking fees at minimarkets is considered to be in breach of Bekasi City Bylaw No. 10/2019 on regional taxation. The collection of parking fees and parking taxes should be carried out by paid parking attendants. In general, minimarkets do not charge for parking. They cannot be forced to impose parking fees, let alone pay parking taxes.

    It is possible that the use of mass organizations for collecting parking fees is the result of Bekasi Mayor Rahmat Effendi returning a favor for the support rendered during his election campaign. One of the organizations receiving these ‘magic letters’ was the Children of Siliwangi Front Initiative Group (Gibas), which has several times been involved in physical clashes with other mass organizations. In the 2018 Bekasi mayoral election, Gibas, supported Rahmat Effendi.

    The Bekasi mayor should realize that involving mass organizations identified with thuggery in parking management could become a boomerang. Minimarkets will be flooded with parking attendants using threats and relying on muscle. Clashes between them over parking lots will be unavoidable. The presence of parking attendants backed by mass organizations will only the people worry and burden consumers. The Bekasi administration should protect places of business from thuggery.

    The negligence of the Bekasi administration was also seen in the lack of a mechanism for receiving the money collected by parking attendants. They were not issued with parking tickets, which are used as a way of controlling income. Instead of empowering mass organizations, as the mayor has put it, this system gives them special treatment because they are paid without having to do any work.

    Rahmat Effendi must abandon this cooperative effort to collect parking fees by mass organizations behaving like thugs. He should also stop the politics of patronage that gives special treatment to individuals or organizations. In many areas, this has disadvantaged the people.

    The central government must intervene to battle thuggery related to parking, and maximize the role of the police. As well as Bekasi, this phenomenon has also occurred in a number of cities and regencies. To guarantee ease of doing business and to maintain public order, the state must not give up, let alone be defeated by thuggery.

    Read the Complete Story in this Week's Edition of Tempo English Magazine