Jun 24, 2024 Last Updated 5:50 AM, Jun 24, 2024

Expelled from my home by thugs!

Who wouldn't want to live on 5000 square metres of land, near a main road, in an elite area of Southern Jakarta? I have been living here for thirty years. I have a residency permit based on a court decision. And I don't want to sell. In 1952 this land was controlled by the Purba Wisesa Foundation, who built a hostel for high school students. They obtained a residency permit for lots number 96 to 99 in what is now Senopati Road 3, Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta. The permit ran for thirty years. However, a few years later the hostel was abandoned. The deserted grounds were soon overgrown.

Shame to waste it

My family lived just behind here. Considering the land was not being used, we moved in in 1963. It seemed a shame to waste it. Moreover, the Purba Wisesa Foundation had broken up. We found it was no longer even registered with the Social Welfare Department. My father, a police commissioner in the 1950s, felt confident in moving in for the time being. After 1982 I was entrusted with the care of the house and land. I improved the ruinous building and paid tax on it. In order to strengthen my legal claim I applied for ownership to the South Jakarta court in 1990. The previous residency permit had expired in 1982. I put forward a host of documents going back to 1952. Judge R Wendra granted my application. He said I was the legal occupant and had the right of priority based on Presidential Decree no. 32 of 1979. I therefore applied to the South Jakarta Land Office for a certificate. However, as this process was in train, in October 1993 I was suddenly sued by Mrs Sri Juliati Nitimihardjo Mansoer and Mrs Toeti Kalay Iwa Kusumasumantri. They said they were the board of the Purba Wisesa Foundation and that the land had been theirs since 1952. But we knew the original foundation closed down years ago. I found that this particular foundation was only set up on 1 October 1986. Moreover, their supporting documentation was weak. In September 1994, the South Jakarta court rejected the suit of Sri and Toeti. The judges doubted the validity of their new foundation. They appealed, but lost again in 1995. So they went to the Supreme Court. However, before the final judgment came down on 13 February 1997, suddenly a number of people turned up accompanied by police and soldiers, saying they were from Sumbercipta Griya Utama Pty Ltd. This firm was owned by three developers of Chinese descent, Umar Hartadinata, Hasan Hartono and Yongki Tanugraha. Armed with a letter signed by a general, they made an offer for the land.


But I had no interest in selling. Then the intimidation started. There was banging on the back wall with rocks. It stopped when I complained to the military garrison. A month later they came again, bearing an eviction order signed by the Jakarta municipal government for the Sumbercipta company. But I refused. On 13 May they came again, accompanied by policemen and some thugs. The back wall of our house was destroyed with crowbars and sledge hammers. I was too scared to spend the night there. On 20 June the same thing happened again. This time there were about 50 of them. They said they belonged to The Boss of Thugs, Basri Sangadji, and started demolishing most of the fence around the house. We complained to the South Jakarta police station. But the police did not respond. While all this was going on, an eviction notice arrived from the Jakarta Housing Department on 4 August. I tried asking them at least to wait until the Supreme Court decision, but they didn't want to know. On 14 August the second eviction notice arrived. I steeled myself and went straight to the Jakarta deputy governor. My spirits lifted a little when he asked the Housing Department to slow down because there was a law case pending.


But it didn't last long. The worst intimidation by thugs occurred on 22 August. At 4:30 in the morning my younger siblings were still asleep in the house. Suddenly they were awoken by a crashing sound: a bulldozer was breaking down the wall. Terrifying individuals with rocks, knives and even a long sword came right in. They smashed the furniture and carried it to a truck. They looted the valuables, including jewelery worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and about AU$ 50,000 in cash belonging to my brother's business. Important documents disappeared. My sister was dragged outside in her pyjamas. My two brothers were beaten black and blue because they tried to resist. I'm lucky I wasn't there. I might have been bashed to a pulp. I then complained to the Military Police headquarters. And got lucky. They managed to control the situation and the bulldozer was removed from the site. However, the trauma haunts us still.

From Forum Keadilan 3 November 1997.

Lawyers for Sumbercipta Griya Utama denied they had used thugs, suggesting on the contrary Mrs Suripatty may have used them herself. Jakarta police chief Col Gorries Mere said that the police did not tolerate the use of thugs, and that Basri Sangadji was now in detention on another charge of thuggery. Stories such as this one, in which commercial interests 'borrow' military muscle to resolve land claims (often already confused by war and revolution), are common in the Indonesian media.

Inside Indonesia 53: Jan-Mar 1998

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A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar.