Tue, 26 Sep 2000

Students protest fuel price hike

MAKASSAR, South Sulawesi (JP): Around 200 students took to the streets here on Monday protesting the fuel price hike, effective next month.

The students, from the Student Movement for People, said the policy was not popular and would "kill the people with low incomes."

The rally started at 10 a.m. local time, congesting the traffic on Jl. Urip Sumohardjo thoroughfare. The students burned used car tires and held orations before marching to the provincial legislative council.

Spokesman for the students Ismail M Said said that it was hard to accept the official reasons to increase the fuel price. "In general the people have yet to recover from the economic crisis. The government takes people's real condition for granted."

"The people have to pay high prices for natural resources from their own homeland, while they should enjoy them for free," Ismail said.

The students' anger over the fuel price hike issue almost exploded at the legislative council building where the councillors were holding a plenary session.

A quarrel between deputy speaker of the council Kallo Bandoso and the students almost led to violence.

Kallo said the students were welcome to enter the convention room, but asked them not to disturb the session. "You are welcome to become listeners. If you cannot restrain yourselves from making noise we will ask the security guards to expel you."

One of the students was apparently uneasy with Kallo's statements and said they were not afraid of such threats.

The students finally agreed to leave and meet with a separate team. They said they would resist the government policy. (27/sur)