Thu, 25 Sep 2003

More parents complain aboutr violence at STPDN

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Following the controversial death of Wahyu Hidayat, a student at the government-run Public Administration Institute (STPDN) in Sumedang, West Java, more parents have filed complaints with the police over the violence their children had experienced while studying there.

Nina Karlina, the mother of Nunu Karsa Nugraha, 19, filed a complaint on Wednesday with the Sumedang Police over a series of violent acts allegedly committed by her son's seniors since September last year that had eventually forced him to resign from the institute.

Since the death of Wahyu, Sumedang Police have recorded three other cases of violence suffered by students, including Nunu and Jurinata. The latter had also decided to quit after being subjected to a series of beatings blamed on older students.

"My son didn't do anything wrong when the seniors started to single him out and victimized," Nina Karlina told the police. "He was once ordered by them to guard the dorms at night during which he witnessed some seniors using drugs there."

"Since that incident, he became a target for beating. He still suffers from a serious injury in his stomach," Nina said.

"Due to the traumatic experience, my son decided to escape from the school and filed for resignation, but the school head asked me to pay compensation amounting to Rp 2.1 million (US$247)," Nina said, adding that she had failed to meet the request due to financial difficulties.

STPDN's students, who are government employees, are exempted from paying tuition fees.

Another parent said that it was common for his son to come home over the weekend covered with bruises.

According to Sumedang Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Yoyok Subagyono, the office is currently questioning students whose faces were seen on a video tape recording them committing violent acts at the institute.

The video was first aired by private television station SCTV on Sunday.

Meanwhile, National Police deputy spokesman Sr. Comr. Zainuri Lubis said on Wednesday that police had received a request for protection from Inu Kencana Syafi'i, a lecturer from STPDN believed to be responsible for leaking the video tape.

"He came to the National Police Headquarters last night to seek police protection after he received a death threat," said Zainuri.

Police will deploy personnel to accompany him and ensure his safety, Zainuri said.

In response to mounting criticism over STPDN's tradition of violence, Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno has set up an ethics commission to review the moral standing of STPDN's personnel and to identify problems among the students and lecturers.

Hari also stressed that "STPDN is in a critical state, which requires that we (his Ministry) directly supervise the institute by assigning our staff from the secretariat general to be in charge there."

Hari has appointed I Nyoman Sumaryadi, an official at the ministry's secretariat general, as coordinator in charge of day- to-day activities at the school. Earlier on Tuesday, Hari appointed the ministry's secretary-general Siti Nurbaya as acting head of the school.

STPDN head Soetrisno has been removed from his position and has been assigned a job at the Ministry of Home Affairs, Hari added.

The decision was made after the minister conducted a rapid appraisal over the school's performance following the controversial death of Wahyu, a second-year student, on Sept. 2.

The 20-year-old died after he was allegedly beaten by seniors at the institute, which has a reputation for military-style discipline.

The Sumedang police have declared 12 students suspects in Wahyu's case.

Hari is also planning to merge the STPDN with the Jakarta- based Institute of Public Administration and expects to have the merging completed within six months or at least by early in the 2004 academic year.

As part of efforts to review the institute's curriculum, Hari said that he had urged the school to stop all activities that were prone to physical abuse as well as to review the students' psychological tests.

Last year's psychological tests conducted by the institute showed that 37 percent of the 806 students were alarmingly aggressive and 35 percent showed hypersexual tendencies. The tests also conclude that "this is the wrong place to educate civil servants."