Thu, 18 Sep 2003

STPDN must end boot camp

M. Taufiqurrahman Andi Hajramuni, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta/Makassar

Demanding that the death of Wahyu Hidayat, a student at the Public Administration Institute (STPDN) in Bandung, West Java, be the last incident of its kind on the campus, the House of Representatives told the state-run institute to put an end to its military-style training.

House Commission VI for education made the demand on Wednesday after questioning STPDN director Sutrisno over the death of Wahyu, who was allegedly beaten to death by older students.

Commission deputy chairman Heri Akhmadi said the STPDN and all colleges must put an end to any activities that could lead to violence against students.

During the hearing, the members of the commission rained questions down on Sutrisno, demanding an explanation for the death of Wahyu, a first year student who allegedly died after being assaulted during initiation activities.

The victim was allegedly strangled to death by older students who accused him of being disobedient.

A number of the commission members demanded the dismissal of Sutrisno, accusing him of failing to prevent violence at the institute.

Replying to the questions, the director said the STPDN did not tolerate the use of violence in upholding discipline.

However, he acknowledged that the institute did use military- style discipline in day-to-day activities.

"Those (students) who have leadership qualities, about 20 percent of our fourth-year students, are regularly sent to boot camps to take part in military training with cadets from the Army, Navy and Air Force," he told the lawmakers.

He also said that within the institute, students were monitored around the clock.

"We divide the students to live in a system resembling Indonesia's administrative system. There are those with leadership qualities who are assigned as village heads, subdistrict heads, regents and governors," he said, adding that the institute director was the self-appointed president.

Sutrisno was quick to add that this arrangement trained the students to be future leaders.

The commission recommended that Sutrisno be asked to step down if he fails to end violence on the campus within six months.

The commission's deputy chairman also demanded that STPDN be disbanded, as Law No. 20/2002 no longer recognized the institute.

Under the law, the home ministry merged the STPDN with the Institute for Public Administration (IIP) in Jakarta. Officials at the ministry have reiterated numerous times that the merger was aimed at creating a synergy between the two institutes.

They also said the merger would allow for greater efficiency and improved supervision.

Sutrisno said after the hearing that he was prepared to step down, "but it must be done in accordance with existing regulations".

He pledged to work to prevent any future incidents of violence on the campus.

In a related development, home minister Hari Sabarno told reporters in Makassar, South Sulawesi, that the merger of the STPDN and the IIP would begin with the 2004 academic year.

He dismissed speculation that the ministry was pushing ahead with the merger because of the recent incident at the STPDN.

"We began this drive (two years ago) in accordance with existing regulations," Hari said.