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Gaga all over

Publication Date : 16-05-2012


Thousands of tickets have been sold for the Lady Gaga concert, scheduled for June 3. If the event is cancelled, fans will surely get their money back, as with previously abandoned music performances.

But the reason this time would officially not be a security threat in light of a recent bombing attack, prompting organisers to call off the concert. In the words of the police, it would be because the star "indulges in revealing her body, dancing erotically and spreading pornography."

Speaking for the Jakarta Police, Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said on Monday that the security authorities in the metropolitan city could not recommend issuance of the required permit for Lady Gaga’s concert after “taking suggestions from many circles and groups.”

The public has accused the police of only listening to one group – thugs speaking in the name of God, Islam and their leaders. Or the police may be wary of taking responsibility for a possible clash between hard-liners and the real hardcore fans of the “Poker Face” singer.

In any case, we are once again witnessing the hands-off approach of those who are supposed to protect and to serve the people, despite all the international donations that have filled the coffers of the National Police since they separated from the Indonesian Military to become a civilian force in 1999. In countless cases, the police have referred to "public input" as they idly stand by as a mob closes down a mosque, a church, nightclubs or disrupts discussions such as those featuring Canadian writer Irshad Manji last week.

Of course the question is why the government is also turning a blind eye to the law enforcers who are not doing their job, not once, but over and over. We are told to understand the police’s position, as exemplified by their banner at the Jakarta Police compound, which says that while they are not able to satisfy everyone, “we continue trying.”

In the case of listening to “public input” on several occasions that resulted in the police bowing to “mob” pressure, they do not even try to reach out and ask for opinions from other members of the public.

For the last several years, a dangerous standard procedure has developed that has led the police to allow the disruption of talks, art events, and now a concert, either because they are protecting and serving a violent minority interest – or because they are adopting a hands-off policy instead of providing security to all citizens.

We feel that while public input is crucial to maintaining social stability, and forms the root of democratic governance, it must never triumph over the rule of law or come at the cost of minority voices.

This is shameful in the face of so much international goodwill to help improve our police. Among other donors, the National Police are still in partnership with the European Union, which is spending almost ¤4 million to improve community policing.

All such contributions are going to waste, and are more likely lining the pockets of officers, as the police — and the government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono — have let their credibility vanish into thin air for depriving the citizens of their right to security for the sake of winning favor with conservative politicians claiming to represent the nation’s Muslims.

This is the unfortunate picture emerging in the centre of the international spotlight that follows Lady Gaga everywhere, ahead of the UN review of Indonesia’s human rights record.


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