Shopping centers in downtown Jakarta begin reopening following post-election protests

Indonesian protesters take part in a demonstration before being dispersed by the police  outside the Elections Oversight Body (Bawaslu) in Jakarta on May 22, 2019. (Photo: Bay Ismoyo / AFP)
Indonesian protesters take part in a demonstration before being dispersed by the police outside the Elections Oversight Body (Bawaslu) in Jakarta on May 22, 2019. (Photo: Bay Ismoyo / AFP)

In the wake of post-election protests over the last two days in Central Jakarta, which descended into violent riots on several occasions, malls and shopping centers located around the protest sites are beginning to reopen their doors and some are already operating normally today.

Grand Indonesia, one of the largest malls in Central Jakarta, situated a short walk away from the Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) office on Jalan MH Thamrin — the site that had the largest concentration of protesters over the last two days — returned to its usual 10am-10pm business hours after closing much earlier yesterday at 3pm. The mall says the decision to resume normal hours was taken as there appears to be little chance of further violence in the area today.

“Today, Grand Indonesia opens as usual, but we’ll improve our security for the safety and comfort of our visitors,” Grand Indonesia PR officer Annisa Hazarini told CNN Indonesia today, adding that the mall is cooperating with the military and police to ensure safety for its patrons.

The mall’s management has not determined the financial losses incurred by their 350 tenants having to close early yesterday, as well as the decline in visitors due to the protest.

The high-class Plaza Indonesia shopping mall, which is located adjacent to Grand Indonesia, also closed early at 2pm yesterday and will remain closed until tomorrow. The mall is expected to reopen on Saturday due to safety considerations.

“The tenants [said] they didn’t mind, actually they closed first before we decided to officially close the mall,” Plaza Indonesia PR and Marketing Communications Manager Tommy Utomo said of the mall’s 500 tenants.

The legendary Sarinah shopping centers, located right by Bawaslu’s headquarters, reportedly suffered significant financial and material losses during the riots, including broken glass windows at the mall’s iconic McDonald’s, which was hit by rocks thrown by rioters, as well as damage to the famous Sarinah sign.

PT Sarinah Retail Director Lies Permana Lestari said she doesn’t know when the shopping center will reopen. She added that Sarinah could have potentially lost IDR6 billion (US$414,000) in turnover due to being shut this week.

“We’ll wait and see. Tomorrow is Friday and I hope there will be no more mass movements. But if there are any, we’ll still close for the safety of our employees and our tenants,” Lies told Detik today

The usually bustling Tanah Abang Market Block A-G, which is situated right by some of the most violent clashes between rioters and police, remained mostly empty today. As reported by CNBC Indonesia, merchants chose not to open their stores after the riots continued until early this morning. 

The total financial losses incurred by the market’s tenants since yesterday’s closure have been estimated to reach IDR700 billion, given the huge turnover of money in the textile wholesale market ahead of the Lebaran (Eid) holiday.

Authorities say at least eight people have been killed in the rioting in Jakarta over the last two nights and hundreds have been injured. Last night, police arrested 257 suspected of provoking and taking part in the riots and officials say there is strong evidence that many of those captured came from outside of Jakarta and were paid to create chaos during the protests.


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