Fri, 11 Apr 2003

No compromise with RMS: Officials

Azis Tunny, The Jakarta Post, Ambon, Maluku

Maluku's acting governor Sinyo Harri Sarundayang insisted that the civilian emergency authorities would not compromise with the South Maluku Republic (RMS) separatist movement in the planned observance of its 54th anniversary on April 25.

He said he had ordered local security authorities to take "stern measures" against the rebels and their activities aimed at seeking wider support for the separatist movement.

"We will remain firm and there is no compromise with RMS which is fighting for the province's separation from the unitary state (of Indonesia)," he told The Jakarta Post here on Thursday.

Sarundayang warned the members of the separatist movement, which has been fully supported by the Maluku Sovereignty Forum (FKM), against provoking the people to celebrate the RMS anniversary, or raising the RMS flag.

"So far, the banning of RMS and FKM activities have not been lifted. The authorities will take strict actions against any individuals or groups breaching the ban," he said.

The Jakarta Higher Court has ordered the police to arrest FKM Chairman Alex Manuputty while the latter is appealing over the recent verdict of the South Jakarta district court which sentenced him to three years imprisonment for subversion. The arrest order was given to prevent Alex from fleeing the country.

Alex was put on trial after he and other FKM supporters raised the RMS flag in observance of RMS's 53rd anniversary in Ambon on April 25, last year.

Maluku Police Chief Brig. Gen. Bambang Sutrisno lashed out at the separatist movement, but said that the RMS and FKM supporters had weakened following Alex's arrest.

"Yet, security authorities remain on alert for possible activities by the RMS in the next three weeks and we (police) will coordinate with the civilian emergency administration to enforce the law," he said.

Sutrisno told the people of Maluku to quit supporting RMS and FKM, because it would raise new problems, in addition to the currently waning sectarian conflict that brought grief and trauma to the province for nearly four years.

Maj. Gen. Agustadi, chief of the Pattimura military command overseeing Maluku and North Maluku, called on the people not to be easily influenced by RMS supporters to take action that would be against the law.

"Any groups who violate the law will have to face the security authorities and law enforcers and we will not hesitate to take act against them," he warned.

Meanwhile, Adj. Sr. Comr. Sihotang, chief of the Central Maluku Police Precinct, said he had deployed a dozen detectives to investigate the dissemination of FKM circulars calling on the people of Maluku to fully support the celebration of RMS's anniversary in the regency.

"The circular has been signed by FKM Secretary General Moses Tuanakota with a call on FKM supporters and the people to remain loyal to RMS which is fighting for the province's independence," he said, adding that the police would continue monitoring the situation in the regency.

Sihotang added that FKM activists were believed to be holding secret meetings to make preparations for the anniversary celebration, and that so far the police had arrested two civil servants who participated in the secret meetings. He declined to identify the two, but said they were residents of Kairatu district in the regency.