Fri, 29 Sep 2000

Students against fuel price hike

MAKASSAR, South Sulawesi: Makassar students again took the streets on Thursday protesting the planned fuel price hike due to come into effect on Oct. 1 and warning President Abdurrahman Wahid that the South Sulawesi people reject the policy.

The huge rally involved thousands of students from various universities, including the Makassar State University (UNM), and the Indonesian Muslim University (UMI). They toured the city on trucks and motorcycles stopping off at the legislative council and the state television TVRI building and "occupying" the Pertamina (the state-owned oil and gas company) office. They demanded that Pertamina refuse to increase fuel prices.

"This is to serve notice on President Abdurrahman Wahid that we, the South Sulawesi people, reject the fuel price hike plan," Wahid Nara, the student spokesman, said.

"We also warn the Abdurrahman administration not to ignore regional voices, or we will take to the streets in much larger numbers."

Deputy speaker of the provincial legislative council Edy Baramuli said the council had officially declared its opposition to the proposed fuel price hike and that the students had responded positively. "However, the students have the right to express their opposition through a rally such as this."

The students lauded the council's decision on Wednesday.

They said the council's stance indicated that the regional administration had the courage to go against central government policies.

The government's plan to increase fuel prices is highly unpopular and it is expected that it will trigger increases in commodity prices. The plan has drawn strong protests from many areas. (27/sur)