Thu, 05 Oct 2000

Makassar students detain six government employees

MAKASSAR, South Sulawesi (JP): The conflict between the Alauddin State Islamic Institute (IAIN) and the South Sulawesi gubernatorial office continued on Wednesday with the detention of six civil servants by the students.

The students pledged to hold the six civil servants hostage until Governor HZ Palaguna arrived and openly apologized to the students for the excessive force "initiated by the office employees" on Monday.

The six 'detainees' are identified as Kahar, Ahmad Djufri, Iwan, Buyung, Bakri and Slamet Riyadi.

"The governor must come here to apologize, or the students will not release the six people and the four cars being held," Olleng, an IAIN student, told The Jakarta Post.

The aggressive actions of the students were arbitrarily conducted by the IAIN students on Tuesday during a demonstration by thousands of students from several universities protesting the 12 percent increase in fuel prices.

The students examined ID cards of passersby to learn if they were civil servants.

South Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Pol. Sofyan Jacoeb called on the students on Tuesday to stop the vandalism. "We cannot condone any brutality. Eighteen students have been detained for burning gubernatorial office cars and for other acts of violence during the demonstrations. They are all students of Makassar University and Universitas 45," said Sofjan.

The students finally released the six detainees at about 8 p.m. local time after the IAIN rector Abdul Muin Salim met with Makassar City Police chief Sr. Supt. Aryanto Boedihardjo and Governor Palaguna.

Soon after the meeting at Palaguna's office, the rector assured the students that the governor would come on Thursday to apologize. "If he (Palaguna) does not keep his word, I will step down. I mean it."


On Tuesday night, governor HZ Palaguna said that South Sulawesi would not accept the fuel price hike policy.

"We herewith ask the central government to delay the decision. Increased fuel prices always result in increased prices in other goods, including staples," Palaguna said after a three-hour meeting with concerned institutions in response to the students' actions on Tuesday.

He said another official letter asking for a delay would be sent to President Abdurrahman Wahid.

Also on Wednesday, in the West Sumatra capital of Padang, a large group of students called Front Padang marched to the provincial legislative council denouncing the fuel price hike effective on Oct. 1.

Waving banners and posters, the protesters congregated at the council building and held orations.

"Fuel price increases also means increases in prices of other goods. This is burdensome to the people," Muhammad Mahfuz, the students coordinator, told Antara.

In Semarang dozens of students from the state Diponegoro University, Tujuh Belas Agustus 45 University and the Soegiyopranoto Catholic University launched a peaceful rally protesting the fuel price increase.

The students, calling themselves the Democratic Students League (LMD) distributed leaflets calling for the people to go against the government's 'notorious' wisdom.

"Fuel prices increased this month and in five months they will increase again, and other commodities will become more expensive. What will we eat then?" Ade Ruli, the students spokesman lamented. (27/har/sur)