South Jakarta Pak Polisi were out in force in Kemang last evening for the riot that never came. The entire length of Kemang Raya from Fez to Eastern Promise was covered by squads of officers in riot gear prepared for the predicted rioting and looting, with particularly heavy concentrations around EP, Kem Chicks, McDonalds, Roosters, Ranch Market and the Duty Free Shop.
Undeterred, your NtJP reporter bravely made his way to Kemang by way of a taxi that wasn’t a Blue Bird.
Asked for the reason why Pak Polisi were gathered in such large numbers, ranking officer on the ground Commander Budi Buwonobesar told us that the External Monitoring Unit at headquarters on Jl. Sudirman had seen what was going on in London and had ordered contingency plans to be executed in all areas with significant numbers of British expats, including Kemang of course.
Apart from the mid week revellers going about their usual business, all was quiet around midnight, however, and we stopped off at a few places to check out the buzz. A group of very likely looking rioters were in Eastern Promise but turned out to be no more than a bunch of young BIS teachers out on the razzle celebrating their return from annual leave and the upcoming start of term.
One of the BIS teachers, who refused to be named but had a moustache and wore cut-off jeans, sandals and an exquisite diamond stud in his left ear lobe, shared with us that he had just got in from London and was glad to be in a safe country again. Pressed, he admitted that he felt some sympathy for the rioters because of the economic situation back home, but thought that it was “important to understand the distinction between political expression and free trainers”. You always get a good quote from a teacher; that’s why they’re teachers.
As we moved on, Kem Chicks was already long closed of course but we asked one of the SATPAMs on duty if he had seen any riots or looting to which he cleverly replied, “not since Pak Harto left in 1998, Pak”
Finally, we dropped in at Crossroads where we found a couple of young Poms of rioting age and ethnicity playing their 23rd game of pool of the evening who were to happily engage your correspondent in conversation after they had put their cues away for the night.
One of them, Ben from Ealing, said they were both working here in the Stock Exchange building as agents for London Securities Firms and expressed the view that every expat here had a job and felt little need to loot a department store for new trainers, except perhaps those working for the many dodgy language schools in the city.
Bar Manager, Charlie Bali, from Brixton told us that he really would have been up for a bit of a riot this evening as his telly was “on the blink”, however, after a sixteen hour day he really hadn’t felt up for it. “My night off is Tuesday” he told us, adding hopefully that “maybe they will have one next week, I’m surprised they’re not using Blackberries to organise themselves properly, like in Tottenham”.
As your reporter left Kemang for home around 04:30, Pak Polisi were getting into their open sided lorries ready to do the same and the barricades were being dismantled by workmen. So, no riots or looting tonight, however, according to a police source Pak Polisi will be back for at least the next two nights and readers looking to give those back in the UK a bit of support might consider Pasaraya instead, it’s bottom left hand corner of Pak Polisi’s risk matrix apparently as no self respecting expat would be seen dead in the place these days.
As reports came in from all over the city of Poms not rioting anywhere, your reporter’s view was that far and away the biggest risk he took all night was not using a Blue Bird taxi.