Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has ordered the administration’s Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) personnel to refrain from violent measures in their duties and rather, work on establishing a positive image in the eyes of the public.
In an address to the Satpol PP personnel given during a roll call on Thursday, Jokowi requested that they refrain from resorting to violence.
“I want you to instead take a more humane approach. You have to prioritize settling through dialogue. Talk to them. Be assertive — but not violent,” Jokowi said during the roll call at the National Monument (Monas) compound in Central Jakarta.
“You will be unyielding to those breaking regulations but you will not lay your hands on them. Be firm — we do not want to damage the prestige of the Public Order Agency,” the governor said.
Jokowi also ordered the officers to refrain from carrying either batons or knives, adding that “the use of shields should also be avoided.”
The governor said the actions of the Public Order officers represented the administration. The administration has a total of 6,844 Satpol PP officers.
“Violent officers represent a violent administration,” he said.
During his tenure as mayor of Surakarta in Central Java, Jokowi also stripped batons and shields from the Surakarta Satpol PP. In an effort to further remove the violent image of Surakarta’s agency, Jokowi appointed a female as the chief.
The city agency’s image was tarnished following a deadly clash over a planned demolition of illegal buildings around a Muslim shrine in Koja, North Jakarta, in 2010.
Three people were killed and more than 200 others injured when thousands of officers clashed with the defenders of a sacred monument honoring a historical figure once buried in Koja.
The affray generated mass protest against the Satpol PP, notorious for its heavy-handed approach. The then agency chief Harianto Badjoeri was immediately removed from his post after the incident and was replaced by
Effendi said that in the past two years, the agency had been working to improve their image and train officers on soft and communicative skills.
“We no longer use batons and knives. We no longer carry them. We are staying away from the repressive methods and instead use a more persuasive approach,” Effendi said.
The agency, he said, has also employed stern punishment for officers violating the code of conduct and regulations.
The administration plans to involve the Satpol PP officers in clearing illegal street vendors and handling illegal residents in slum areas.
In his plan, Jokowi wants to remove vendors off the streets and provide alternative spaces for them in an operation to commence next year.
The City Transportation Agency has reportedly requested around 3,000 Satpol PP officers to be moved to the agency to assist traffic management and safeguard Transjakarta Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) exclusive lanes from private vehicles.
Effendi, however, said he was not aware of the proposal. “I heard that Deputy Governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama has approved the proposal. I have yet to receive any order on the matter,” he said, adding that the Transportation Agency had not contacted him about the request either.