Police Chief Wants Pecalang in Hotel Security Net

DENPASAR ~ Bali’s police chief has urged hotels to integrate traditional pecalang village guards in their security measures to ensure maximum protection for their properties and their guests.

General Sutisna announced the move on Tuesday, the day a special security seminar was held in Denpasar. He said that involving local communities in the security network was the best way to combat the threat of terrorism.

And he also announced that on Monday he had met representatives of pecalang and other village leaders to discuss shared security concerns.

“We also need good cooperation from the community,” he said.

Hotels have been urged to exercise extra caution against terrorist activities during October and November. Both the 2002 and 2005 Bali bombings occurred in that timeframe.

In Denpasar on Tuesday, where the special security seminar was held, General Sutisna said Bali Tourism Board figures showed tourism traffic to Bali was running at 7,200 visitors a day compared to the normal daily flow of 5,000.

He said hotels should respond to the additional inflow of tourists by paying extra attention to security operations.

The move to bring pecalang village guards into hotel security measures is yet another step towards an island-wide code of vigilance backed by real resources on the ground and designed to deny terrorists any freedom to act.

It follows an earlier meeting, in August, arranged by police and the Bali Hotels Association, to hammer out agreed security procedures.

This week’s announcements by General Sutisna coincide with a warning from the national police spokesman, General Nanan Sukarna, that police and other security services in Bali must maintain “maximum security measures” because the island remained a terrorist target.

General Nanan, speaking at the security seminar in Denpasar on Tuesday, said the community needed to work with the police to avert terrorism and prevent the entry of terrorists to Bali.

“We must be vigilant to ensure terrorism does not occur here again,” he said, advising residents throughout the island to be alert for strangers in their communities.

“Bali is a target and everyone, everywhere, must maintain the highest levels of vigilance. Be especially alert to foreigners and strangers in an area who do not conduct themselves within the routines of daily life.”

General Nanan said prevention of terrorism depended on good cooperation between the community and the police and community vigilance was the most powerful tool for combating terrorist activities.

People should be given the highest motivation to reveal the existence of terrorists, he said. “In all possibilities, and all locations and all occasions, let us work together to help each other,” he said.

Meanwhile, a large-scale joint security operation in Jembrana on Tuesday resulted in the arrest of 18 people travelling illegally in Bali. Most of the 18, who were unable to produce current identification documents, said they had come from southeast Sulawesi. They were released but made to leave Bali.

The operation was conducted by the police, armed forces and Jembrana regency agencies including the Office of Population, which has overall responsibility for recording the presence in the regency of people from outside.

Tuesday’s special operation involved the redirection of all goods and passenger transport moving towards Denpasar from the ferry port at Gilimanuk to the Jembrana government office for inspection. Vehicles were examined with metal detectors. Identification documents were inspected. Any goods assessed as suspicious were destroyed.

One passenger on a bus to Denpasar, Dwi Sarina, said that even though her journey was disrupted by the checks, she supported the operation. “Although Bali is a relatively safe place, such security operations need to be conducted continuously,” she said.

Despite continuing security measures, efforts to find and detain Indonesia’s most wanted criminal, the Malaysian-born alleged terrorist leader Noordin M Top, have so far been unsuccessful. Top, named by security officials as the man responsible for the July 17 Jakarta bombings, the 2005 Bali bombings, and other terrorist attacks, is believed to be hiding in Java.

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