Tuesday, October 11, 2005

My driver, Mo

Dutch East Indies, 1912, from chiesavecchia collection © All rights reserved.

Normally I don’t remember my dreams, but around this time I had one of those bad dreams that wake a person up. I could remember the scene. My driver, Mo, was at a street corner. He was being beaten up by a group of criminals.


It was the end of the school day and Mo was waiting for me beside my vehicle, which was parked under some trees. He struggled to stand up. His face was cut and bruised.

"What happened?" I asked.

"Mr Kent, I got beaten up," he said.


"Near where I live. In my kampung in Cipete."

"Who did it?"

"Some toughs were causing problems for my friend. I went to help him. They kicked me."

"What had your friend done?"

"I don’t know."



"Have you been to the police?"

"Nobody goes to the police. I’ve a relation in the army. He’ll kill the guys who did it, if he finds them."

"Have you been to the doctor?"

"No, Mr Kent."

"Well we must go there now."

After Mo had been patched up I remembered my dream.


I had just left Min’s house and was being driven homewards along North Jakarta’s Teluk Gong Boulevard.

"Lots of discos and motels here," I commented to Mo, who was still subdued after his beating-up.

"Part of this area is a red light district," said Mo, quietly.

"What sort?"

"Many hundreds of gambling dens and brothels," said Mo.

"Aren’t these illegal?" I asked.

"Yes, Mr Kent."

"So who runs these places?"

"Gangsters from different parts of Indonesia."

Mo went on to explain that the local red light district was controlled by the Mandars and Makassars from Sulawesi and the Bantens from West Java. Allegedly the Mandars were backed by certain top policemen and local government officials, while backing for the Banten gang came allegedly from a different set of policemen and some officers from the army’s special forces. The Makassars occasionally got raided by the police because they had no links to top people.

"It can sometimes be dangerous," said Mo. "If the Bandars and the Banten go to war, then the police may get involved, some on the Bandar side and some on the Banten side."

"And what about the people who attacked you?" I asked.

"They’ve disappeared," said Mo. "They must be hiding."