Intro: Thousands of students clashed with police in
Indonesia Thursday during demonstrations against a new
security law that grants greater powers to the
military. As VOA's Amy Bickers reports from Jakarta,
the military says the law will encourage more
democracy and reform.
Text: Thousands of students protested in Jakarta,
Surabaya and several other cities on Thursday, after
the country's parliament passed a controversial
security law which they say increases the military's
authority. In the capital, riot police fired rubber
bullets and used teargas as they stopped demonstrators
from marching on parliament. Students wearing red and
white, the colors of the Indonesian flag, threw stones
and gasoline bombs and charged the police.
The new law gives greater authority to the president
to declare a state of emergency. It requires the
consent of Indonesia's parliament and permits the
state of emergency to last up to six months.
Protestors, such as student activist Hendri Kuok
(prono: kwok), say the law will increase the power of
the military to clamp down on demonstrations.
/// KUOK ACT ///
We consider the security bill is anti-democratic
and does not bring the sprit of the reform
process to Indonesia. The bill itself gives a
lot of authority to the military under state
emergency situations such as they could stop
workers' strikes and student demonstrations or
seize the land under the security law.
/// END ACT ///
The armed forces chief, General Wiranto, rejects
claims that the army tried to push the bill through
parliament to protect its power base. He says the new
law is necessary and in line with the principles of
democracy and human rights.
The government says it softened some aspects of the
new law to allay public concerns. Unlike the original
draft, the new law does NOT allow restrictions on
the media during a state of emergency.
Kusnanto Anggoro, an analyst at the Center for
Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta, agrees
that the law is less draconian then earlier versions.
/// ANGGORO ACT ///
To a certain degree yes, they may be right but I
think the timing is wrong because there is a
lack of credibility. I agree the subsistence is
a little bit better than in the past. Of course,
the real problem is the military involvement in
politics. In Singapore, Malaysia and even in the
United States they have security laws, but the
military does not get into politics in those
countries. Here, it is totally different because
the military gets very much involved in politics
and even in the next couple of months or year
the military will still be involved in politics.
/// END ACT ///
Mr. Anggoro notes that the bill was passed in the
final days of the outgoing parliament, which is
dominated by the ruling Golkar party. The new
parliament, which is due to be sworn in next month,
will contain more opposition representatives and the
number of seats assigned to the military will be cut
23-Sep-1999 11:35 AM EDT (23-Sep-1999 1535 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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