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They rallied outside their campus

Gatra - April 18, 1998

The theme and the scope of the students rally extended. The Minister of Education and Culture was criticized and demonstration is beginning to stray out of campus peripherals.

The students rally has moved out across the campus fences. After the Friday sholat last week, no less than 20.000 masses from various universities all over Java gathered in a mass meeting at the green yard of Great Mosque of Al-Azhar, Jakarta. Beside the students, the rally themed "Mass Meeting of Indonesian Students and People" was also attended by the people who just attended the Friday sholat.

The various colored almamater jackets representing their campuses mixed with many posters held upward. Some of them came from University of Gadjah Mada (Yogyakarta), University of Brawijaya (Malang), Institute of National Islam Religion Syarif Hidayatullah (Jakarta), Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB), University of Indonesia, University of Airlangga (Surabaya), and etc. They have their own banner representing the Indonesian Moslem Student Action Unit (KAMMI), the organization established last March 29, in Malang, East Java, by representatives of Campus Propagating Institution (LDK) from 60 colleges.

Each student representative – most of them member of the board of student senate – of each university made their speeches, and demanding reforms. Among those walking up the podium such as Rama Pratama, Chairman of Student Senate of University of Indonesia (SMUI), and Febri Nurhidayat from ITB. The rally indicated that the newly established KAMMI is starting to show their power.

In general, their demands was specified in the form of seven-point statement of KAMMI stance. "The government should be responsible for all of this crisis. The first responsibility is asking to be apologized by the people of Indonesia, then repent and ask God forgiveness and willing to make total reforms in the immediate future," one item of the statement as read by Fahri Hamzah, the student of UI Postgraduate, the Chairman of KAMMI.

The content of other stataments are not much different from the early demands made by the students for wiping out of corruption, collusion, and nepotism, and reducing of prices of the nine basic commodities. Of course, they also criticized the "theme" forwarded by the Minister of Education and Culture, Wiranto Arismunandar, regarding the restriction to carry out practical politics at campus.

In various recent student demonstrations, Wiranto Arismunandar has became the target man. The fact is, that during a get-together among the rectors of universities throughout Indonesia on April 3 and 4 held in Jakarta, Wiranto instructed the rectors to stop rallies conducted within campus. The mass media also reported that Wiranto restricts any practical politic in campus. The restriction was also further confirmed on April 8, when the Minister of Education and Culture conducted a meeting with rector assistanec III – handling the student activities – from 30 universities and head of three Private School Institution (Kopertis) Coordinators.

In the meeting, Wiranto issued a kind of guidance regarding the role and function of tertiary educational institution. Among others, restriction in conducting practical politics activities in campus. Political practices here means any activity from individuals or groups participating in conducting or influencing directly or indirectly any political making decision. Based on this definition, according to Wiranto, the recent student rallies are already regarded as practical politic undertaking.

Unavoidably the idea proposed by Wiranto was heatedly responded to by the students. At the students of University of Gadjah Mada (UGM) rally on April 9 last, Wiranto was strongly criticized. "The Minister of Education and Culture seems yet to learn the meaning of politic," said Ridaya La Ode Ngkowe. Chairman of UGM Student Senate. At other governments universities such as ITB, IPB and UI, Wiranto became the target for critics. The universitys board of management such as Bambang Kartika (Assistant Rector III of UI), was among those who strongly differed with Wirantos opinion. "The recent concerned rallies by the students cant be categorized as political practices," Bambang Kartika told the press last week.

Head of private tertiary educational institutions would not to be left behind. For instance, from Trisakti University Jakarta, the campus who during the January 15, 1974 became the place where the students of various universities initiated the rally challenging the Japanese economic domination. Julianto Hendro Cahyono, Chairman of Student Senate of Trisakti University, announced his campus stance to the various mass media. "We hope the Minister of Education and Culture would review his statement and give his support to the student activities in channeling out their rights and aspirations," was among the statement of campus stance. University of Jayabaya, University of Atma Jaya, University of 17 August and a number of private colleges in Jakarta signed a joint-statement demanding Wiranto to revoke his guidance.

In the meantime, the Indonesian Military Commander General Wiranto who has offered a dialog with the students but was rejected, again invited the campus community to have a mutual discussion. He offered an invitation during a meeting with 19 youth organizations at the Ministry of Youth and Sport Affairs, Jakarta, Saturday last week. "The government asked its best young people, including youths from campus and anyone who can offer solution, assisting the government in coping with the monetary crisis and the fluctuating economy," Wiranto said during the meeting.

By Priyono B.Sumbogo, Sapto Waluyo and Khoiri Akhmadi.