All fingers were pointing to the Jakarta administration after the British Embassy relocated its offices in response to the dismantling of security barriers on the road leading to its building opposite the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle.
A spokesman for the city, however, has denied any knowledge of the relocation.
Two boom gates, set up more than 12 years ago as part of the embassy’s perimeter security, were pulled down on May 20 after complaints from residents about the inconvenience of having to go through the security checks.
Since then, media reported, the embassy has relocated to an adjacent building. The embassy did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Sr. Comr. Suntana, director of the Jakarta Police’s vital facilities unit, said that while his office was involved in taking down the gates, it was the city’s decision.
“All I know is the governor [Fauzi Bowo] said the road was a public one, so the gates had to be removed,” he said. “We just did what he wanted.”
He added that while the embassy had requested the barriers be put back up, the governor had insisted against it.
Cucu Ahmad Kurniawan, a spokesman for the Jakarta administration, said he had not received the news about the embassy’s relocation.
He added that he would “coordinate with the transportation office and the [Central Jakarta] municipality” to find a solution to the problem.
Cucu said the administration would “immediately ensure security” at the embassy, although he did not say whether this meant replacing the gates.
Suntana said that even without the gates, the embassy was still safe from threats. “In terms of security, that’s a very safe area,” he said. “We always have personnel on guard there.”
He added there were always at least six police officers stationed outside the embassy, while backup was available from the police post at the traffic circle.
Ignacio Kristanyo Hardojo, director for diplomatic security at the Foreign Ministry, said his office was seeking a “win-win solution that can accommodate the wishes of the Menteng residents and the security needs of the British Embassy, because we want to solve this problem as soon as possible.”
“However, it needs to be understood that Indonesia has the same standard of security for all foreign embassies in Jakarta, including the British Embassy, where we want to create a sense of safety,” he said.
“Hopefully we’ll have a solution by next week.”
Last month, Rudy Pamaputra, who owns the building adjacent to the embassy, said the gates had caused problems for both his staff and clients. He has owned the building since 1975 but opened a golf simulator on the premises only five years ago.
Rudy said he had been complaining to the embassy since the gates went up in 1998.
“My clients are reluctant to come here because not only do they have to pass through the portals, but they must also go through security checks,” he said last month. “This is a public road but the embassy treats it as its own, especially with the security officers who are so arrogant.”