ASIA NEWS REPORT:
by Mathias Hariyadi
government raises fuel prices by 33 per cent without parliamentary approval.
More demonstrations are planned for the coming days. More than 20,000 police
agents are deployed in Jakarta, the highest number since Suharto's
Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Thousands of university students clashed violently with
police at the Gambir railway stations in central Jakarta during a rally against
fuel price hikes. Armed with Molotov bombs, wooden sticks and stones, protesters
attacked security forces deployed along the main access road to the State Palace
and the National Monument of Monas in Central Jakarta. Scores of people were
Subsidised fuel is set to increase on 1 April by 33 per cent to US 65 cents,
a decision the government took without parliamentary approval. Experts are
concerned that it might push up the price of basic necessities and threaten the
lives of millions of people scraping by on a few dollars a day.
The fear of an economic crisis caused by higher fuel prices has caused
similar protests in Medan (North Sumatra), Makassar (South Sulawesi) and
Gorontalo (North Sulawesi), where demonstrators torched the car of a local
government official. More demonstrations against higher fuel prices are expected
in the coming days.
From Seoul, where he is attending the nuclear summit, President Susilo
Bambang Yudhoyono accused the opposition of fomenting the clashes in order to
discredit the government and take power.
In order to quell the unrest, the government has deployed 20,000 police
agents in central Jakarta, the largest number since 1998 when violent
anti-Chinese protests left scores of people dead.
Higher gasoline and diesel fuel prices were the cause of that unrest as well,
lasting for the whole of May, and eventually forcing then President Suharto to
leave power after 32 years of dictatorship.