Sat, 15 Jan 2000

President's remark upsets Riau council

PEKANBARU, Riau: The provincial council plans to send a letter to President Abdurrahman Wahid protesting his recent remark that calls for independence in Riau were "nonsense", council speaker H. Chaidir said here on Friday.

Chaidir regretted the statement, saying that it ridiculed people in the province.

"It is therefore only understandable that people in Riau became angry. I believe that all people in Riau were offended by the remark," he said as quoted by Antara.

When recently asked about demands by some people in Riau for independence, Abdurrahman said the province did not have the ability or the capacity to stand on its own.

Chaidir said the people of Riau could one day boycott all oil tankers and oil-related activities if the central government continued to ignore the province's aspirations.

"Yes, we can cause oil production in Riau to come to a stop for some time. Then it will become obvious how much Riau's oil is contributing to the national economy and whether it is true that Riau does not have the capacity to become independent," Chaidir said.