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Business as usual for Jakartans despite rumors JAKARTA - Jakartans appear to have attained a certain level of nonchalance when confronted with rumors of disturbances connected with the current political tension, saying simply that they've seen it all before. In separate interviews with The Jakarta Post on Tuesday, a number of interviewees said that they had heard rumors of riots, but so far they had failed to materialize.
On Wednesday, the city will witness a House of Representatives' plenary session which looks set to summon a special session of the People's Consultative Assembly to impeach President Abdurrahman Wahid. At the Blok M subterranean shopping center in South Jakarta, newsstand attendant Ferdinand said there were many rumors circulating of possible disturbances. "At first, people might have been scared, but now we know they won't happen again. We are immune to these sort of rumors now. I'm sure it'll continue to be business as usual," he said.
A newspaper vendor, Selamat Tambunan, also voiced a similar hope. While expressing concern about the increasing tendency to resort to violence, he said that the most important thing was not to be provoked. "I read in the newspapers that all members of the security forces have been ordered to always carry their weapons wherever they go. This tells me that they'll be well prepared," he added.
The Blok M shopping center is located underneath the Blok M bus terminal. The area is known as one of the city's major shopping areas and is home to several major department stores. In the nearby Pasaraya department store, Shinta, a wristwatch sales assistant, told the Post that she would do whatever the management told her to do. "My superiors have instructed all the sales staff to be careful and to follow the instructions issued by management," said the young woman.
A security guard said the management had decided to a put the store on full alert. "All the guards are required to work overtime in order to strengthen our numbers. We are also maintaining coordination with local police and military units," he said while requesting anonymity. Meanwhile in the Glodok area of West Jakarta, a center for household goods, electronics and computers, business was also proceeding as usual with the normal traffic jams very much in evidence.
Mei Lie, who sells computer hardware, said the political difficulties had not affected her sales. "I am more concerned about the fall in the rupiah against the US dollar. When the rupiah falls, the customers will hold off buying in the hope that it strengthens again," she complained. Another vendor, Lili, said her sales of electronic games had, surprisingly, increased despite the political tension and fluctuating exchange rate.
"I don't know why but I made a good profit last week. The rumors should have scared the customers off, but they kept on coming as if nothing unusual was up," she said. Rohmat, a security guard at Harco Glodok (an electronics shopping center), told the Post that the guards had been ordered to increase their alert status in the run-up to the House session. "It is just like on normal days. We still patrol and guard the shopping center as usual. One thing for sure, we must stay on the alert in our area," he asserted.
He claimed not to be worried as there was a police post nearby and they had at least 10 motorcycles that were ready for use. A surprising claim was made by Budi Lalana, an assistant manager of the Matahari Department Store in Taman Anggrek Mall, West Jakarta, who said his store had exceeded its sales target for the month. "We achieved better sales this month despite the political turmoil. The customers are taking a wait-and-see stance. If nothing happens (in the morning), they come in the afternoon," he said.
Housewife Hana Tedja said she was more concerned about the rising prices of staple foods than security. "I had to cancel my appointment with the doctor for a prenatal checkup. But what worries me the most is the skyrocketing price of food," she said. Separately, Hera, a dentist, said she would continue to run her practice as usual. "I will just carry on with my daily routine. Let's hope nothing untoward happens," she said.



Posted in General @ 30 May 2001 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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