Sat, 22 Feb 2003

Muslim students object to privatization program

Jakarta Post, West Sumatra

Scores of students from the West Sumatra branch of the Indonesian Muslim Students Action Front (KAMMI) rallied here on Friday to protest the privatization of state enterprises and the presence of some economics ministers.

Antara reported that the students began to gather midmorning in front of the Jam Gadang Monumen (Bukittinggi's "Big Ben"), waving banners, protesting the privatization of state enterprises -- particularly the Indonesian satellite corporation, Indosat, and the local cement factory, PT Semen Padang.

The rally was organized only 100 meters away from the Bung Hatta palace, where a dialog, titled "Dialog between the government, bankers and businesspeople in western Indonesia" was scheduled to be held on Friday evening.

The dialog will be attended by Bank Indonesia (BI) Governor Sjahril Sabirin, nine Cabinet ministers under Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Jakti, governors, district chiefs and mayors from western Indonesia.

"The divestment of government shares in state companies shows the government's failure in its move toward national economic recovery. Indeed, the privatization will further worsen the country's economic condition," student demonstrator Ahmad said in his speech.

He blamed the failure and the worsening economic condition on the economic team of President Megawati Soekarnoputri's government under the leadership of Dorodjatun.

The students then issued a statement rejecting not only the privatization program but also the presence of the economic ministers at the two-day dialog. "We reject the presence of Megawati's economic team here because it is responsible for the country's continuing economic crisis," Ahmad said.