Thu, 02 Oct 2003

STPDN head responsible for culture of violence: Watchdog

Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A government watchdog on Wednesday said Sutrisno, the principal of the Public Administration Institute (STPDN) in Sumedang, West Java, was responsible for the prolonged violence against junior students at the institute.

Government Watch (Gowa) chairman Farid Faqih said senior students' assaults on their juniors at STPDN were the consequence of Sutrisno's policy that "eventually drives the seniors to use violence against juniors accused of violating the policy".

Sutrisno introduced the policy in 1999 and renewed it each year on, Farid said.

A second-year STPDN student, Wahyu Hidayat, 20, died last month after being beaten by his seniors for defying their orders.

The death highlighted the brutality that has long been taking place at the institute, which was established by the home ministry to produce professional bureaucrats.

More parents have filed complaints with the police over the violence their children have experienced while studying there, with some planning to sue Sutrisno, who allegedly turned a deaf to the complaints.

Sumedang Police have declared 12 students suspects in Wahyu's case and expected to hear the case soon.

"I think it is not fair if the students alone have to be responsible for the assaults on Wahyu, which led to his death," Farid told a press conference.

"As head of the institute, Sutrisno should be responsible too," he said.

The Ministry of Home Affairs recently temporarily removed Sutrisno from his post, but Farid said that "replacing Sutrisno is not enough."

Following the death of Wahyu, Gowa conducted a 10-day investigation starting from Sept. 20.

It concluded that systematic violence had taken place there and said officials and students at the institute had "joined hands to hide the case from the public."

"Therefore, we suggest that the government ... quiz Sutrisno over the violence because he was the top official responsible for any policy at the institute," Farid said.

Also on Wednesday, the team led by the Ministry's secretary general, Siti Nurbaya, held an internal meeting at the STPDN campus. The meeting reportedly reviewed the curriculum and planned merger of the institute with the Jakarta-based Institute of Public Administration (IIP).

The meeting reportedly also discussed a plan to send new students to undergo an initiation program at the IIP in the 2004 academic year to prevent them suffering from further abuse.