March 27th passed peacefully in Jakarta. The number of people joining the protest was huge, as expected, but overall, it was okay. There were only few “sparks” during the protest in Jakarta and Surabaya. Twenty or thirty university students were arrested but has been released; a couple of police stations were damaged. However, worse situation happened in Makassar. The protesters damaged two fast food restaurants: McDonald’s and KFC.
Yesterday, on March 28th, it was business as usual: traffic jam, public places were crowded, and there was no sign of protest anywhere here in Jakarta. Earth, Wind, and Fire’s concert in Jakarta went well and safe. Sadly, in Malang, there was a turmoil where the people burnt tire during the protest causing terror and stopping people from their activities.
Today, the president of Republic Indonesia, Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) will arrive in Indonesia from South Korea. The people and the protest continues. Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, Makassar, Jogjakarta and many other cities. Today’s protest is more tensed than before. Tomorrow, March 30th, the people’s council will take vote in deciding whether the gasoline price will increase or not.
I have been following the news since this morning and well, it seems that the situation is getting serious. The people that consist of university students, labor, and other organizations requested the current president and vice president to resign. They accused the government is helping foreign investors instead of Indonesian people by increasing the gasoline price. The term “neo-colonialism, neo-imperialism, capitalism” were mentioned many times. They also said that they won’t stop protesting until they “win”. I am not sure of what are they referring to, the resignation of the current president or the cancellation of gasoline price increase.
The media seems to enjoy the current situation. They interviewed more people. They invited more correspondents to analyze the situation. They have reporters on field here and there to give an updated report on the current situation. Well, that’s what they do, but I think that the more they blow it up, the more they somehow encourage or stimulate the people to do more, you know, to keep going.
The students complained that the police were being too repressive toward them but I suppose it was the right thing to do. When the protesters started doing anything that is breaking the law, the police must take action. It is also the way of showing that the protesters should not underestimate the law and its enforcement.
I saw on tv that the protesters bring along their children during the protest. That is the most idiotic action anyone could ever do. What is the point of bringing them to the street when you are protesting the government? What if, the situation goes bad; the police must use the gas or water canon to defend themselves, the protesters throw stones or anything they can throw?!! Do they not think?? Can’t they see the risk? You don’t need master degree or even finish high school to protect or minimize the risk of your children getting into any danger, do you? That is just unbelievable. If the children got hurt, they will blame the police, they will curse and sue and complain and say that the police are supposed to protect the people, not hurting them. But then the question will be,”why on earth would you bring your children with you during the protest?” or do they purposely bring the children as shield? I don’t know, it’s possible.
Anyway, there was no incident or any troubles on my way to the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport just now. Everything seems normal and I wish it stays that way anywhere else in Indonesia.
Tomorrow, March 27th, 2012, is a big big day for Indonesia although we are not celebrating any religious events or that we are commemorating any historical events. No, it’s not that. Tomorrow, in many cities in Indonesia, especially big cities like Jakarta and Surabaya, people are going down to the streets to protest government’s plan to increase the price of gasoline. If the rumor is true, then we are talking about tens of thousands of people.
I got many broadcast in my blackberry spreading the information about which streets to avoid, how many people from this organization and that organization or students from this university and that university that are joining the protest, at what time the protest will begin, etc.
So, here’s the situation. Gasoline in Indonesia is currently subsidized by the government and held at the price of IDR 4,500.00 per liter. The plan to increase the price of gasoline has been on government’s agenda for like forever but it has never come into realization, yet. Now it seems that they are “being serious” about it and so people react (naturally). The government wants to increase the price of gasoline to IDR 6,000.00 per liter. Again, from what I heard, the plan is the money which was formerly used to subsidize the gasoline will be allocated for what is called as Bantuan Langsung Tunai or BLT or direct cash compensation (probably there is better translation but more or less it’s something like that) to the poor citizen.
Alright, some arguments here that I have gathered (not mine) why people are being crazy about and stood against this gasoline increase:
First, funny thing is, even before the gasoline price actually increases, price of goods and service and many other things, if not everything, have already increased. The government has not officially increased the gasoline price yet! IF the price of gasoline increases, then other prices follow, then that is natural, that is how things work. But other prices increase before the gasoline price increases? That is odd.
Second, Indonesia is a country who produces crude oil but unfortunately, we are not able to process it. So we export the crude oil, and then have them imported back. If the government argued that they can no longer subsidize gasoline because the price of world oil increases, then aren’t we suppose to have some profit from the crude oil that we export?
Third, the number of people who have cars and/or motorbikes in Indonesia are perhaps significantly lower than those who have them. However, when the price of gasoline increases, which usually will be followed by increase in other prices as well, there won’t be any exclusion or exception for those who don’t have cars or motorbikes. They will be even more “squeezed” in that situation.
Personally, I think media is doing a very good job as a “control” for the government. Compare to Soeharto’s era in which the media is controlled and subjected to the government; In this era, we are no longer easily fooled and we have so many information in our hands. I see this as a progress for my country; a positive one. The young generation is also concerned about issues that this country is dealing with. Nevertheless, often the so-called democracy here is uncontrollable. People + many university students diligently protest the government and the protest could go out of hand; they burn, they throw stones, they clash with the police. Anarchy.
With a number that big, tens of thousands of people, if something goes out of hand, if someone provokes and lights up the fire, the protest can be disastrous. The memory of May 1998 is still burned in the back of Indonesia. It was dark days. The shooting of university students, the looting, the burning, the rape, the forced-resign of the president, the fall of Rupiah against dollar, the monetary crisis.
Well, it is good that you want to be heard and you are doing something to be heard. We should never be silenced. Government should be afraid of the people. BUT please, please, pretty pretty please, have some manners, respect others and don’t harm other people. We are in this together, so let’s not turn against each other and work it out.
It’s Tuesday, March 27th, 2012. Today is a big big day for Indonesia. Hopefully we will pass this day in peace and the government of Indonesia will hear it’s people.
“If I look exhausted in the movie, that’s definitely real! There’s a very intense fight scene with a 14-year-old girl who had been training – well, all of us had been training in stunts and hand-to-hand combat, but I guess she had been training longer than I had been. And she unleashed! I was like, ‘It’s a scene!’ She beat the hell out of me! I was shaking like a chihuahua every time they called action: ‘Please, no!’”—Jennifer Lawrence (via peetathepainter)