Sunday, 19 July 2009

Security? What Security

It’s mind-boggling really how Jakarta’s top international hotels with Fort Knox style security not only could have let in terrorists but actually gave them freedom to move around with bombs strapped to their bodies and blowing people up with ease.

Not only that, the amount of security for these hotels that see many foreign guests and become venues for business functions, is a daily and routine inconvenience that we have to endure every time we go there, all in the name of safety and peace of mind given this country’s vulnerability to regular terrorist attacks.

Particularly at the J.W. Marriott, the scene of 2003 terrorist bombing that transformed the hotel into an impenetrable island of safety and comfort from evil people. Or so we think.

So how are these security people trained? Do they really know what they are looking for when checking cars at the gates, opening car boots, checking under the car, inside the engine and poking their heads inside to see who’s driving? Do they really understand what to watch out for and identify when bags go through metal detectors? Are they taught to recognize suspicious looking behaviour and suspect-looking individuals that might not fit in with the general profile of regular guests, business people or tourists?

And what about the bomb-sniffing dogs? Are they actually trained to sniff bomb-making materials or are they just there for show to give the impression of security? Most of the time they don’t even look alert. I’d be surprised if they’re properly fed at all.
So it looks like what we have is a situation where terrorists were actually able to smuggle in bombs or bomb-making materials undetected and checked in the hotel as if they’re regular guests. How scary is that!

Also, it shouldn’t be that difficult to identify whom these people are if they were really properly checked in. After all, every time a guest checks into a hotel they have to produce their identity card or passport and proof of payment, like a credit card. They also have to fill in a guest form detailing their names and nationalities. I’d be interested to know if these procedures were properly carried out at our international standard hotels.

Perhaps the many years of relatively peaceful and bomb-free life that this country has enjoyed has left our Intelligence and law enforcers complacent. While it looks like the tight security measures imposed on hotels, malls and other public venues have over the years degenerated into superficial gestures and daily routine carried out without much attention and clear purpose.

No doubt we will recover quickly from the recent shocks. We always do. As a matter of fact no amount of terrorist actions would keep Jakarta people away from their malls and their hotels. Check out Twitter and you can see that young Indonesia condemn and are not afraid of terrorism.

But we can ultimately prevent these evil acts by weeding them out and limiting their movement. For this the country really needs to pull our act together and take security measures more seriously. I’m sure all the necessary equipment and technology is there. The question is, is it being used effectively? Are those paid to keep us safe and secure doing their job properly?

The bombers had not only succeeded in sending a message about their presence but are also thumbing their noses at the quality and level of security that these hotels employ. For a hotel to be bombed once is a misfortune. To be bombed twice looks like carelessness. (Desi Anwar)


  1. We have to protect ourselves from now on. By that, we will protect our country.

  2. I couldn't agree more with this.

    Those blasts really showed the weaknesses of our security. A great challenge for both the authorities and hotel industries. Expensive cost must be put in to Human Resources quality improvement training and technoligies required for the sake of 'safety'. Do they even willing to put that much cost?

    ** Btw, I like your writings...such an inspiration. :)


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