One of the pressing questions that people have been asking about newly inaugurated Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan is whether or not he would fulfill his campaign promise to shut North Jakarta’s infamous Alexis Hotel, a nightlife entertainment venue that many claim to be Jakarta’s most luxurious brothel (Anies’ inauguration speech has already answered the more pressing question of whether he would unite Jakartans after his divisive campaign with a definitive “nope”).
In anticipation of Anies officially becoming governor on Monday, a group called the “North Jakarta Volunteer Movement” gathered in front of Alexis Hotel on Saturday afternoon to demand that Anies fulfill his promise to permanently shut the venue (which describes itself on its own website as “the pioneer that sets the benchmark for adult one stop entertainment hotel”).
Massa Gelar Aksi di depan AlexisSejumlah massa yang tergabung dalam Gerakan Relawan Jakarta Utara melakukan unjuk rasa…
“Close Alexis, we hope this is a gift for our new governor. To tackle Hotel Alexis c’mon comrades, make a fist with your left hand, we the people of Jakarta sincerely vow that Jakarta not be a place of prostitution,” yelled one speaker to the crowd of around 70 people, as quoted by Detik.
However, the demonstration was short-lived and broken up after only 30 minutes or so. According to Alfian Nur Fitroh, a coordinator for the volunteer group, protesters were scared away by preman (thugs).
Hotel Alexis Ricuh, Pendemo Dipukuli Preman Bayaran https://t.co/WhDLIdhV49
— Jawa Pos (@jawapos) October 16, 2017
“We were forced to leave by paid preman,” he told Jawa Pos on Monday, adding that two of his fellow protesters had suffered injuries at the thug’s hands.
The volunteer group’s chairman, Mahdi Cholid, said that police personnel were present at the start of the protest at around 3pm. But about 30 minutes later, he said a large group of “fierce and enormous men” came to confront them.
In their report on the demo, Detik described this counterprotest group as being made up of people “living in North Jakarta and around Alexis Hotel” and that the two groups started shoving each other and were broken up by the police.
But Cholid told Jawa Pos that the “preman” group attacked the demonstrators, beating them up and even stepping on some who had fallen. He claimed to have been kicked himself and said that some demonstrators had gone to Sukmul Hospital in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta. He also mentioned that they had reported the incident to the police
Governor Anies originally made his promise to shut Alexis during one of the televised debates before the first round of the gubernatorial election. Anies had criticized former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama for only focusing on getting rid of the problem of prostitution and drugs at the street level (such as the Kalijodo evictions) while ignoring high-class establishments like Alexis. Ahok countered by saying his administration had already shut down two infamous nightlife establishments, Stadium and Milles.
Nevertheless, Anies reiterated his stance against Alexis, saying that it only remains open because the current administration turns a blind eye to it.
“Yes [we’ll shut it down]. Regardless of how hard we work [to better the city], the problem of drugs is ignored. Drugs can destroy everything,” Anies said at the time as quoted by Kompas.
However, multiple times when asked about Alexis, both before and after his inauguration, Anies demurred from offering any specifics, only responding vaguely that he would work to fulfill all of his campaign promises.
There are many rumors about powerful forces connected to organized crime that control the Alexis Hotel, and even the Jakarta Tourism Ministry has defended its continued operation, saying they have checked it out and found the prostitution rumors to not be true.
Will Anies fulfill his promise? He may be put to the test soon as there are rumors online that a larger demonstration with about 1,000 people will take place at Alexis this Thursday, although police say they have not received an official notification about the demonstration.