Batam riot should not scare Indian expatriates
Fri, April 23 2010 21:18 | 1492 Views
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Ethnic Indians should not worry about a possible escalation of Thursday`s riot at dockyard firm which was fueled by a racist remark by an Indian worker.
(ANTARA/Str-Jo Seng Bie)
The company has localized the incident and police have assured that there would be no sweeping on ethnic Indians on the island.
After all, an Indian community leader in Batam has also offered an apology to the Indonesian people. So, the 200 ethnic Indians who have fled to Singapore are expected to return to Batam again.
Likewise, the incident was not expected to affect Indonesia- India relations."An incident like this will never affect relations between Indonesia and India," Indian Consul General in Medan R. Sukumaran said on Friday.
About 200 ethnic Indians, or about 40 percent of Indians staying in Batam, have fled to Singapore following Thursday`s riot which hit PT Drydocks World Graha, a firm previously known as Labroy Marine`s shipyard in Batam and is managed by Singapore-based Drydocks World SE Asia.
"I heard that about 200 Indians have left Batam for Singapore," Indian community leader in Batam Devarajan Prakash said after a meeting with local government officials on Friday.
But he expressed confidence that all Indians who had left for Singapore would return to Batam again. Moreover, Deputy Reginal Police Chief for Riau Islands Sr Comr Bambang Budi Santoso assured that there would be no sweeping on ethnic Indians in Batam following the rioting.
About 5,000 workers at the dry dock company in Riau Islands rioted on Thursday, attacking their company`s executives and foreign staff, mostly ethnic Indians, over racist remarks allegedly made by one of them.
"They were provoked by an Indian employee who said Indonesian workers were stupid," National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Zulkarnaen said.
The unrest has inflicted damage on two offices and one building. At least 27 cars were set on fire by rioters. Zulkarnaen said 41 Indian employees of the company were escorted out by 400 Batam Police officers, including members of the elite Mobile Brigade (Brimob).
Indian community leader in Batam Devarajan Prakash has offered an apology to the Indonesian people for the insult made by the Indian employee.
"On behalf of all Indians, I offer an apology to all Indonesians," he said in tears after attending a meeting of regional leadership to discuss the incident in Batam on Friday. He formally conveyed the apology in a letter to the mayor of Batam. He said he would also make the apology in several newspapers.
He said many Indians have lived in Indonesia for a very long time as well as in other cities across the world but they have never had problems. "This is the first time," he said.
Devarajan who has lived in Batam for 18 years said as newcomers from India they must introspect and socialize with the local community so that no incident like Thursday`s would recur.
He said he would gather Indian people living in Batam to discuss the problem to prevent it from spreading.
PT Drydock World Graha`s chief executive officer Denis Welch also offered an apology to the people of Indonesia. "We all deplore the incident. It is not good for Batam," he said. He said Drydock World intended to make long-term investment in Batam and therefore it needed a conducive atmosphere.
Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar said the incident was related to the habit and culture of expatriates in a work place. "Unfortunately, local workers are not accustomed to accepting the habit," he said.
National Police Chief General Bambang Hendarso Danuri said was purely caused by an internal conflict at the company. "It was purely an internal conflict and had nothing to do whatsoever with the Labor Day nor other factors," he said.
Neither was it exploited by other parties but it was merely caused by insulting language, he said. "It had nothing to do with Labor Day, much less to the situation in the lead up to Labor Day.It was purely an internal conflict at the company," he said.
In the meantime, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Hatta Rajasa said Thursday`s riot was an "internal incident" and the company`s management had taken steps to localize it. "It is merely an internal affair of the company. It was not a problem caused by a regulation," he said.
The management of the dockyard company had taken steps to prevent the riot from spreading. "At our meeting with a number of officials, including those from the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry earlier in the day, we came to the conclusion that the incident did not have a significant impact (on the region`s security conditions)," he said.
In order to solve the problem, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has instructed National Police Chief Gen Bambang Hendarso and State Intelligence Agency (BIN) Chief Sutanto to take follow-up steps.
According to Presidential Spokesman Julian Aldrian Pasha, the head of state has received a complete report from the police chief about the riot. The riot was sparked by a racist remark by a foreign worker.
The president therefore ordered the law enforcing agencies to settle the matter properly so that it would not escalate and be exploited by people with ulterior intentions.
Although conditions in Batam had now returned to normal and were under control, the president called on all sides to remain vigilant to prevent a recurrence of the incident, Julian said. (*)
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