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Protests erupt across the country over fuel price increase
Detik.com - February 28, 2005
[The following is an abridged translations of a selection of articles from Detik.com which were posted on its web site on February 28, the day before the Indonesian government of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Vice-President Jusuf Kalla (SBY-JK) took the highly unpopular decision cut fuel (BBM) subsides.]
KAMMI students call for economics minister to be replaced
Astrid Felicia Lim, Jakarta – Prior to a meeting of the People’s Representative Assembly Budgetary Commission at which fuel price increases will be discussed, dozens of students from the Indonesian Muslim United Action Front (KAMMI) held a demonstration at the parliamentary building in Jakarta on Monday February 28.
As well as opposing fuel price increases, they also called on the government to reshuffle the economic affairs cabinet team. According to KAMMI general chairperson, Yuli Widy Astono, their opposition to the price increases are final as it is a demand of the ordinary people and students.
“This is final, the policy of increasing fuel prices will result in increases to the prices of other basic goods. The government should use other alternatives. For example, reducing subsidies for bank re-capitalisation which are as high as 41 trillion rupiah and increase [the state oil company] Pertamina’s efficiency”, he said.
They said that government’s argument that the fuel subsidies are only being enjoyed by the rich is false. In realty, the public already knows that the fuel price increases are being done to plug the budget deficit. Astono added that the target of the compensation funds for cutting fuel subsidies is unclear and will only lead to worse corruption.
A number of demonstrators brought posters and banners which read “Oh I’m confused, the feet become the head, the head becomes the feet”, “BBM goes up again”, “BBM goes up the little people panic”, “A sad story: BBM goes up again” and “Wasn’t it enough that a tsunami struck down the country”.
With regard to the Budgetary Commission meeting which had just started, Astono said that they are lobbying the DPR to allow a delegation to enter and convey the student's position to the commission, that is their opposition to the price increases.
Yogyakarta students demonstrated against fuel price increases
Bagus Kurniawan – Actions opposing fuel price increases also occurred in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta with students from the Islamic Student Association for Reform (HMI-MPO) and the Yogyakarta Muslim Student League (LMMY) carrying a student wrapped in a shroud to the action.
The action, which was held on Monday February 28, began on the grounds of the Yogyakarta provisional parliament at 1pm where they gave speeches and set fire to an old tire.
As well as bringing HMI flags, demonstrators also carried a student wrapped in a white shroud with the writing "casualty of BBM increases" and posters reading "BBM goes up, the people are strangled", "Oppose BBM increases" and "SBY what happened to your promise".
After 15 minutes of speeches they held a long-march to the central post office where they distributed leaflets calling for opposition to the planed fuel price increases and for the arrests of those hoarding fuel and basic goods.
In a speech, action coordinator Panji Hariyanto said the people are obliged to oppose the planned price rises and if the government withdraws fuel subsidies then the people should withdraw their trust in the government and bring the Yudhoyono-Kalla administration down.
According to Hariyanto, rising the price of fuel is not the only way to solve the budget problems. "The solution is not to reduce subsidies, but to wipe out KKN [corruption, collusion and nepotism]. Not by getting the small fish but the big fish and seizing their assets/wealth to pay the debt", he said.
University of Indonesia students oppose fuel price increases
Arry Anggadha – Around 100 students from the University of Indonesia Student Executive Council demonstrated against fuel price hikes at the State Palace carrying a bamboo bier with the writing "Rest in Not Peace (an embittered death)1 on SBY-JK's conscience". The bier covered with a black cloth was carried by four students who also wore black clothing.
Before going to the State Palace the students held a long-march from the National Monument which was barricaded by around 100 police. After negotiations the students were finally allowed to demonstrate on the National Monument grounds in front of the State Palace.
Most of the students were wearing jackets of their university’s colours and yellow head bands with the writing "We don't care SBY-JK"2. Banners were filled with three ultimatums of the people: "Cancel plans to increase the price of BBM", "End economic policies of liberalism" and "Arrest the corrupters and seize their wealth".
There were also posters reading "BBM increases will add to the suffering of the Acehnese people", "A gift for the Acehnese people, increasing BBM" and "This is not the time for 'corruption' but the time for 'caring'".
Although the action proceeded in an orderly fashion it caused a traffic jam disrupting traffic from roads at the nearby Gambir train station to Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara.
Opposing price fuel incases, Makassar students call for general strike
Gunawan Mashar – Opposition against planned fuel price increases has continued in the South Sulawesi provincial capital of Makassar where students are even calling for a general strike tomorrow
One of the demonstrations was organised at the South Sulawesi provisional parliament by dozens of students from the National Student League for Democracy (LMND) who arrived at the parliament at around 10am. They brought banners reading "Seize the corrupter's wealth [to pay] the subsidies for the poor". A number of students wore traditional farmer’s hats with the writing "Casualties of BBM increases".
"There are many other solutions which should be taken by the government without having to increase the price of fuel which is the same as oppressing the little people. This includes seizing the wealth of the corrupters or increasing the import duties on luxury goods", said one of the students, Adi.
A Similar action took place in front of the Aluaddin State Institute of Islamic Studies (IAIN). Students from the IAIN Student Executive Council demonstrated by hijacking a vehicle transporting dozens of LPG tanks. The vehicle was abandoned in the middle of the road resulting in traffic jams in the area near the demonstration.
Students also protested in front of the Makassar Islamic University where they carried kerosene stoves which were placed in the middle of the road as symbol of their opposition to fuel price increases. They also held a theatrical action and called for a general strike on Tuesday. Other rallies also called for a general strike.
Opposing fuel price increases, convoy of vehicles heads for State Palace
Arry Anggadha -- Around 300 demonstrators from a number of groups organised a convoy of 25 public transport vehicles to the State Palace. They plan to hold an action opposing fuel price increases.
The demonstrators from the Urban Poor Network, the Greater Jakarta Becak (pedicab) Network and the Greater Jakarta Public Transport Network began gathering in front of the Indonesia Plaza in Central Jakarta at 10.15am.
As well as angkot (small inter-city public transport vehicle) and becak drivers, the action was joined by housewives and small children. To enliven the action, a number of house wives brought kitchen utensils.
The convoy moved off at 11.10am bringing traffic on Jalan Thamrin to a stand still. The convey stopped at the Indosat Building on Jalan Merdeka Barat then continued on foot leaving their vehicles parked along the side of the road.
Students burn photos of president and vice-president
Ahmad Dani – Dozens of students from the Social and Political Science Faculty of the Indonesian Christian University (UKI) held a demonstration against fuel price increase in which they set fire to tires and burnt photographs of SBY-Kalla.
The action was held in front of the UKI campus in Central Jakarta on Monday February 28 causing a traffic jam when they set fire to tires and burnt photographs in the middle of the street.
In speeches they said that the SBY-Kalla government has proven itself not to side with ordinary people and rejected fuel price increases saying that in order to subsidise the people's needs the government should bring the corrupters to trial and use their money to subsidise the people.
Palembang transport workers strike over fuel price increases
Taufik Wijaya – In the South Sumatra capital of Palembang, around 150 ankot drivers went on strike over plans by the government to increase fuel prices.
Angkot and city buses had begun "disappearing" since 12noon leaving hundreds of passengers on various routes stranded and forcing them to use motorcycle taxis or three-wheeled bemos which are more expensive.
According Robi, one of the angkot drivers, they plan to take their demonstration to the mayor’s office where they will urge the municipal government to adjust public transport fares for short and long distance trips.
Monkey also opposes fuel price increases
Arry Anggadha – Around 300 people from the Urban Poor Consortium (UPC) demonstrated against fuel price increases using a “monkey act” to draw attention to their action.
The demonstration which was joined by members of the Urban Poor Network and ankot and becaks (pedicabs) drivers operating in Greater Jakarta was held in front of the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Monday February 28.
The demonstrators held a long-march from the offices of the Ministry for Political, Security and Legal Affairs to the State Palace. On arriving at the State Palace, they organised a “monkey act”. "Look, even the monkey oppose BBM increases", said the head of UPC's advocacy division, Berkah Gamulya, during a break in the action.
A monkey, which was given the name Iis, could be seen dancing while carrying an umbrella and basket. Following this, the monkey rode around on a becak and bicycle.
The majority of the demonstrators were housewives and children who banged household utensils such as pans, woks and jerrycans. A huge banner was unfurled which read "Oppose BBM increases, reduce the price of basic goods". The action proceeded in an orderly manner guarded buy around 100 police officers.
1. The implication here is that a person who is murdered “isn’t ready to die” and will return as a ghost and haunt the person who committed the crime.
2. “We don’t care” is play on words taken from a recent statements by Yudhoyono that he “doesn’t care” about his declining popularity over the government’s failure to fulfil key election promises in the first 100 days in office.
[Translated by James Balowski.]
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