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Angry forestry minister gets into fight with demonstrators over microphone

Detik.com - July 3, 2007

Indra Shalihin, Jakarta – Stinging criticism by activists from the Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi) who accused Forestry Minister MS Kaban of being the architect behind the destruction of Indonesia’s forests has infuriated the minister. The microphone being used by the demonstrators even became the object of a fight.

The incident took place at around 12.30pm on Tuesday July 3 when some 500 demonstrators from Walhi were about to leave the forestry department offices on Jl. Gatot Subroto in Jakarta.

All of sudden MS Kaban jumped up onto the vehicle carrying the sound system brought by the demonstrators with the intent clarifying Walhi’s accusations by answering directly with a speech. His intentions however were not realised. The demonstrators who had already started to move off paid no heed to the minister. Waving in Kaban’s direction they shouted, “Lies... lies... lies...”

Kaban became even angrier, scolding the demonstrators in a high-pitched voice shouting, “Hey you don’t be cowards. Give me a chance to demonstrate”. Kaban’s shouts however were ignored and the demonstrators strolled off to continue the action at the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources on Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan.

Seeing this Kaban became even more insistent demanding that the vehicle with the sound system not be allowed to leave until he had given his speech. One of the speakers on the vehicle however said that Walhi had not come to the forestry department to open a dialogue. “We from Walhi did not demonstrating here to open up a dialogue with anyone. So you don’t need to explain [yourself] to us”, they said.

A fight over the microphone ensured with Kaban insisting that he wanted to give a speech. Because the situation was getting increasingly out of hand, the speaker from Walhi asked Kaban to alight from the vehicle. “Mr. Kaban, Mr. Police, we came here with good intentions. We don’t wish to provoke the demonstrator’s emotions. Please get down [because] want to continue the rally. Thank you”.

Visibly annoyed, Kaban finally did as he was asked. The general chairperson of the Star Crescent Party alighted from the vehicle and allowed the demonstrators to leave. (bal/nrl)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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