Tue, 15 Jan 2002

Govt warned of 'social revolution'

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Chairman of the Alliance for New Indonesia (PIB) Sjahrir warned on Monday of possible "social revolution" if the government failed to immediately address various economic and political problems gripping the country.

PIB is a grouping of noted economists and political analysts.

Sjahrir said that so far the government had no clear formula for resolving the multi-dimensional problems.

"Should this continue, I predict Indonesia will be headed toward another social revolution," Sjahrir said in his closing speech at a PIB-initiated discussion gathering on Monday.

He stated that the government's decision to extend the repayment period for debts owed by former bank owners to the government was but one example of its poor policies.

He also said that a further delay in the fuel price hike plan was a reflection of the government's lack of comprehensive approach to handling the current problems.

The government previously reported it would increase fuel prices on Jan. 1, in line with its commitment to reduce fuel subsidies and, at the same time, ease pressure on the state budget.

Up to now, however, the government had yet to put its decision into effect for reasons that remained unclear, a situation, Sjahrir said, that had given the fuel black market more opportunity to flourish.

But, Sjahrir believed the fuel black market only reflected a small part of the real problems the country was facing, both on the economic and political fronts.

"Aside from the fuel black market, other black markets also are also present at Indonesia, such as the black market of justice and the black market of power politics," he said.

By the black market of justice he meant distortions in the sense of justice for the public. The public sense of justice had long been left out in the making of some, if not all, policies, he added.

"Look at all the fuss about the extension of the debt settlement program, there is no justice in it.

"While, at the same time, the taxpayers have to eventually bear the brunt of the debt interest payments, those companies under the deal are being freed from paying taxes and interest on their debts."

The black market of power politics included all the political tugs-of-war within the government to protect its own interests, without calculating all the consequences.