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Yogya demonstrators: Fuel price hike more important than Ambalat

Detik.com - March 8, 2005

Bagus Kurniawan, Yogyakarta – On Tuesday March 8, dozens of students from a number of groups in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta held actions opposing fuel price increases. They also called on Yogyakarta people not to be influenced or provoked by the Ambalat dispute1 between Indonesia and Malaysia to the point where the issue of fuel price increases disappears.

This call was raised by one of the participants, Mamad, who is also a member of the Yogyakarta Indonesian Islamic Student Movement (PMII). Mamad and his colleges were giving speeches in front of the offices of the state owned oil company Pertamina on Jalan Mangkubumi. "We declare [that we] still oppose fuel price increases which were made by the SBY [President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] government. We also call on the Yogyakarta people and students not to be influenced by the Ambalat issue", he said.

Mamad explained that the Ambalat dispute between Indonesia and Malaysia should not be used to shift the issue away from fuel prices. Students and the people must continue to voice their opposition to fuel price increases. "The fuel issue is far more important than Ambalat, because fuel [price increases] touch [the lives of] millions of poor people in Indonesia", he asserted.

The joint action between PMII from the Gadjah Mada University (UGM), the Yogyakarta State University and STIEBBANK, started at the UGM campus roundabout in Bulaksumur. As well as bringing posters with messages opposing fuel price increases, they also called on Yudhoyono to reshuffle his cabinet, particularly his economic ministers and to seize the assets of the corrupters.

From the UGM campus they held a long-march to the Yogyakarta provisional parliament on Jalan Malioboro ending up at the State Palace on Jalan Ahmad Yani. During the long-march, some 10 motorcycles owned by students who’s engines had been turned off escorted the rally.

Separately, dozens of activists from the Women’s and People’s Coalition for Reform (KPRP) commemorating International Women’s Day also held an action opposing the increases and demanding a reduction in the price of fuel.

In her speech, one of the participants from KPRP, Dian Novita, said the ones who are suffering most because of the fuel price increases are ordinary people, particularly women, that is housewives. The cuts to fuel subsidies has resulted in the people sliding further into poverty with the price of basic goods continuing to increase day by day. “Fuel price increases have also caused more and more working-class women to fall into poverty”, she said. (nrl)


1. Ambalat - In February 2005 a maritime boarder row erupted between Indonesia and Malaysia over an oil-rich offshore area near North-East Kalimantan and the Malaysian state of Sabah. Some believe that the dispute is being used by the military to push for defense budget increases which would be paid for by money saved from the fuel subsidy cuts announced on March 1. Nationalistic rallies around the country also served to divert the public attention away from the fuel subsidy issue.

[Translated by James Balowski.]
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