A fellow blogger, Yasmin, posted his discussion with Addy Handy, a prominent figure in Bandung's creative industry and vocalist of a band named Forgotten. (The discussion's in Indonesian, though.)
Apparently, after the tragedy at Asian-African Cultural Center (February 9th, 2008), which took away eleven lives, West Javanese Police have tightened up their backsides and treated underground bands like leprosy. This, in turn, leads to more bureaucracy for event organizers to face.
Two cases to ponder:
- A group of tattooists planned to hold a national tattoo event in Bandung. When they requested the necessary paperworks to the police, the officer in charge responded, "Because this concerns tattoos, you guys need to get a permission from MUI (Indonesian Ulemas Council).
The officer knew full well that Islam forbids tattoos. So it was like asking permission to hold an all-you-can-eat meat fest to a hardcore vegan.
Having no choice, off they went to MUI. And--surprise!--they got preached on instead. Defeated, they returned to the officer, "The MUI didn't give the permission, Sir."
"Okay, then," nodded the officer. "So how much [money] do you have?"
"Nuthin', Sir. We barely have enough to cover for the building rents."
"[No money], no permit, then," brushed the officer.
The tattooists finally decided to risk it. They held the event without permit. And it looked as if they could've gone through the day. No police in sight. No troubles brewing.
Then suddenly, without warning, they were raided by FPIs (Islamic Defender Front).
And of course, still no police in sight.
- SMAN 8, a respectable high school in Bandung, planned to hold a an annual bazaar. Traditionally, the event involves several underground bands playing live on a stage. After the tragedy, the police instructed that no underground bands will be allowed to play, unless the stage's located outdoor. And since it was an outdoor event, the committee felt there would be no problem in requesting a permit.
The police scanned the list of performers. When their eyes set on "Burgerkill," a known-name, they began to protest. They decided to visit the site. Then came the excuse. "This field is not eligible. There's no adequate evacuation route."
So the committee scratched Burgerkill off the list.
Then came another. "Four thousand tickets are too many. Make it two thousand."
The committee yielded.
Yet came another. "Okay, we'll give the permit, as long as you don't include live music."
"But, Sir. Live music is the main attraction. We can't manage without it."
"Okay, then. Make the event exclusive. Only people in [school] uniforms can attend. And limit them to 1,200."
This happened on D minus one. One day before the event.
So the committee yielded yet again. And the police promised to issue the permit the next day, right at D-day.
Surprise! They lied. The officer vanished without a trace.
And when the students went on with the event, two trucks full of officers drove in. They were supposed to be the security enforcers. And when they realized the committee hadn't had the permit yet, they turned to threats.
"Sir," an officer addressed the principal. "You do know the consequences for holding an unauthorized event? Especially when things go out of control...?"
The principal surrendered. The event was cancelled. The financial loss? Two hundred and fifty million rupiahs. The school reallocated the budget for laboratory, library, and sport facilities to cover for the loss.
The sponsors were enraged, of course. So the committee went back to the police station, asking for written statement, that the event was cancelled because the permit was not issued as promised. It was, after all, what happened. And the sponsors had the right to know. The sponsorship directors needed to report this to their superiors as well.
Like a good example of Indonesian law enforcement, the police refused.
SMAN 8 have held the annual bazaar for fifteen years in a row. And this may be the end of that tradition.
So, considering these cases, what has the tragedy taught us? Addy said that "[tempered with these kind of things,] the boys (associates in the industry) have become more solid."
And the policy makers and enforcers? Addy added, "Nothing."