FBR circular asking for Eid bonus goes viral, leader says it was only ‘for fun’ but they’d still accept money

A photo of a circular from Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR) asking residents of Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta to give them an Eid bonus. Photo: Twitter
A photo of a circular from Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR) asking residents of Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta to give them an Eid bonus. Photo: Twitter

While Muslim employees in Indonesia are entitled to an annual Eid al-Fitr bonus called Tunjangan Hari Raya (THR), it’s become commonplace every year for some civil society groups (or mass organizations aka ormas, as they are referred to here) to ask for THR from residents on their turf, which is really a nice way of saying, “give us money or face the consequences.”

Over the weekend, a circular with a stamp bearing the name Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR)  an ormas closely associated with street thuggery in the past — went viral on social media. Through it, the group, specifically a chapter named G. 021 located in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta asks, “With Eid-al Fitr 1439 H coming ever closer, we the management of FBR G. 021 and members are hoping for your wisdom in providing Tunjangan Hari Raya Eid-al Fitr 1439 H.” The letter then continues, “Be it known that we are hoping for this THR for the operations of FBR G.021 Kelapa Gading so that there will be peace and calm in the environment in which you carry out your daily activities.”

After receiving condemnation from many, FBR’s regional leaders throughout Jakarta initially denied the circular’s authenticity and said that asking for THR is not part of the group’s activities. However, yesterday, FBR Chairman Luthfi Hakim confirmed the circular was official and came up with this gem of a head-scratcher:

“So it was just for fun and testing the entrepreneurs at the same time. If they give [money] then Alhamdulillah, but if not it’s fine, no one is being forced,” he said, as quoted by Kompas.

Luthfi added that FBR usually accept THR money to fund Ramadan related activities on each chapter’s respective turfs, and not “to enrich themselves or their lives.”

While Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan chose not to act sternly against THR extortionists like the FBR in this case, saying he’s leaving the matter to the authorities, other politicians clearly do not see “the fun” in ormas groups soliciting bribes from the public, including House of Parliament (DPR) Speaker Bambang Soesatyo, who has urged the police to take serious action against them.

And despite Anies’ hands-off approach, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that the Jakarta Provincial Government has the power to withdraw any ormas’ operational permit over extortion.

Has the public finally grown tired of THR extortionists year after year? The general consensus seems to support that hypothesis, so it depends on how sternly the local government and authorities act against them, or we may be having this discussion again leading up to Eid al-Fitr next year.

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