Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan at City Hall. (SP Photo/Joanito de Soaojoao)

Governor Kills the Groove: Jakarta Cancels Tourism Award for Troublesome Nightclub


DECEMBER 17, 2019

Jakarta. The Jakarta administration gave a tourism award to a nightclub where visitors had tested positive for drugs, still garnered endorsement from an Islamist group for doing so, only to reverse the decision days later after the whole thing blew up on social media – all in a week's work.     

And now, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan is being kept busy cleaning up the mess. 

Anies on Tuesday removed Alberto Ali who had given the award to Colosseum Club 1001 – a superclub in Kota, Jakarta's Chinatown – from his position as the acting head of Jakarta's tourism and culture department.

The governor also launched an inquiry into the team responsible for granting the award to Colosseum. 

"This is a fatal mistake. How could a place that had received a warning [from the Provincial Anti-Narcotics Agency, the BNNP] in October receive an award like this in December? It's unimaginable. Everyone in that team is now being put through an inquiry," Anies said.  

Colosseum received the 2019 Adikarya Wisata Award on Dec. 6. The nightclub in West Jakarta was not the only one to get it. Thirty other businesses and organizations were given the award for their "outstanding services to tourism and active involvement in the development of Jakarta's tourism industry."

The nightclub had received a warning from the BNNP for cases of drug abuse involving its visitors in October. 

"Several people had tested positive [for narcotics] during a raid at the club," Brig. Gen. Tagam Sinaga, the head of the Jakarta BNNP, said on Tuesday.

Tagam said he had filed a report on the raid to the head of the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) and to the governor.   

Yusuf Muhammad Martak, the leader of the National Movement to Safeguard Fatwas of the Ulemas (GNPF-Ulama) and one of Anies's main supporters during the religiously divisive Jakarta gubernatorial election in 2017, had earlier defended the provincial government's decision to give the award to Colosseum. 

"I don't think there was anything strange [with the award]," Yusuf told CNNIndonesia.com on Saturday. He argued that the award, which bore Anies's signature, must have gone through a rigorous selection process.

"I am not saying this because I am his [Anies's] supporter. But I do know him very well. Mr. Anies is the most careful person I know, he always does things according to the rules. [He's] a God-fearing, conservative man," he said. 

Yusuf's stance was in contrast with that of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), another group that had also backed Anies in his win against the Chinese-Christian former governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in 2017. FPI had unequivocally condemned the award. 

Other Jakartans have also pointed to the fact that Colosseum was a member of the Alexis Group, whose once-famous flagship hotel and nightclub – the Alexis Hotel – Anies had shut down last year for "failure to prevent vice." 

The Jakarta Tourism and Culture Department took heed of the public criticism and finally canceled the 2019 Adikarya Wisata Award for Colosseum on Monday.

Saefullah, the Jakarta regional secretary, claimed Anies did not personally sign the award and that his signature had only been printed on the plaque.