Rofiqi Hasan, Jakarta – Scores of students in Denpasar, the provincial capital of Bali, held a demonstration on Wednesday October 20 to coincide with the inauguration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) and Vice-president Jusuf Kalla. The students, who were from the United Opposition Front (BOB), urged SBY-Kalla to keep the promises which were made during the presidential election campaign.
The action on the Udayana University campus was closely guarded by security personnel as police were concerned that the students would be attack by thugs. Earlier, during an action coinciding with the anniversary of the TNI (armed forces) on October 5, scores of thugs intercepted and attack student demonstrators in Denpasar.
The students brought banners and posters with messages of hope for the president, “The new government must be clean and people orientated”, “Don’t’ raise fuel prices, give subsidies to the poor”, “Abolish Kodam, Korem, Koramil and Babinsa”1 and “Nationalise the TNI’s assets”2.
Field action coordinator Ricardo called on SBY to fulfil his promise to immediately make basic changes to the nation, that is to fully investigate cases of corruption, human rights violations, improve the welfare of workers and eliminate the Mafia within the judiciary.
“If within 100 days there are no indications in the direction of such change, we will call on the public to reject the new government. Don’t just be absorbed maintaining an image by arresting petty corrupters, trying soldiers for human rights violations but not their generals, demonstrate that there will be [real] changes”, he said.
Demonstrators also called for cuts to the military budget, prohibitions against the TNI to conduct business and end to land evictions and other acts which hurt ordinary people. The Balinese students also called for the poor, workers, farmers, street traders and pro-democratic organisations to unite to monitor the SBY-Kalla government. “Because, without such monitoring, power will tend to be misused for the interests of the people who hold it”, said Ricardo.
1. The TNI’s territorial command structure mandates the deployment of military command posts and detachments at all levels of the civil administration: provincial, district, sub- district and village. This structure provides the organisational framework for the TNI to act as a political security force at all levels of society. The five respective commands are: Kodam – Komando Daerah Militer, Regional Military Command; Korem – Komando Resort Militer, Military Command at a level below the residency; Kodim – Komando Distrik Militer, District Military Command; Koramil – Komando Rayon Militer, Sub-District Military Command (Kecamatan) level and; Babinsa – Bintara Pembina Desa, Noncommissioned military officer posted in villages and wards and affiliated with the civilian administration.
2. The TNI’s current yearly budget stands at US$1.06 billion, less than one-fourth of Singapore’s military budget, and covers only about 30 per cent of the armed forces operational costs. This short-fall is made up by the military’s involvement in various business foundations and a range of illegal activities such as protection rackets, smuggling, weapons sales, illegal logging, narcotics, prostitution and gambling. It is widely believed that the profits from these businesses only benefit high-ranking officers while low-ranking soldiers remain strapped for cash (they only get an estimated 5 per cent) forcing many to do “odd jobs” like as working as security officers.
[Translated by James Balowski.]