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Jakarta launches command centres to curb social unrest

Straits Times - February 19, 1997

Jakarta – The Jakarta Military Command has begun operating the National Alert Command Centre (PKN) which would be effective throughout the country.

"Through the command post, people can contribute information to the authority and related-agencies regarding the truth of rumours," Jakarta Military Chief Major-General Sutiyoso said here after officiating at the opening of the operation of the command post on Monday.

Following recent riots, President Suharto had asked for alert command centres aimed at ensuring peace to be set up at regional military commands.

Maj-Gen Sutiyoso said people were expected to contribute to the post because averting riots which may disrupt the process of national development was the responsibility of all Indonesians, Anatara news agency reported on Monday.

The National Alert Command Centre will involve a number of parties, including public figures, religious leaders, the military, policemen and local municipal officials.

The centre is set up to provide confirmation on rumours, including those about riots.

Asked about the possible overlapping of its task with the Coordinating Board of National Stability (Backorstanas), he ruled out the possibility, saying that "the post will become the spearhead of Backorstanas at the military district level".

"The most important thing is that we can get accurate and fast information in order that we can solve the problem immediately."

He said the post would provide a free telephone service through telephone number 122 for anyone who wanted to give or obtain information about certain issues.

He gave an assurance that the centre will respond to "any report from the people", adding that for those who wished to give information through the mail, they could send it to P.O. Box 122.

"The services were given the same number to help people to memorise it easily," he said.

He expressed the hope that the officials of the centre would introduce the new agency to the people in order that they do not hesitate to give their contributions.

The task of the National Alert Command Centre is to anticipate and detect various potential problems which may lead to mass riots and disruption to the development process.

The centre should also give information to the people about incidents happening in their regions and analyse reports about unrest and formulate a proper action with a view to finding the best solution.