Student protests in Indonesia slam 7th year of Jokowi’s administration

A student protest in central Jakarta
A student protest in central Jakarta marks seven years of President Widodo's administration with critical message. Image: CNN Indonesia/Indoleft News

Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

Protesting students have held demonstrations in several cities around Indonesia to mark seven years of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration, reports CNN Indonesia.

The protests came as President Widodo left Jakarta to officiate at the opening of a palm oil processing factory owned by the PT Jhonlin Group in South Kalimantan.

The largest demonstration was held in Jakarta on Thursday where protesters led by the National Association of University Student Executive Bodies (BEM SI) marched from the National Library to the State Palace in Central Jakarta.

The protesters were stopped at the Horse Statue because of a police blockade. However, there was no physical confrontation and the student took turns in giving speeches in front of the police blockade.

“Today, we are not here for existence, but to bring a clear substance,” said Boy, a representative from the Tanjung Karang Polytechnic during the action near the Horse Statue.

The demonstrators read out 12 demands after being prevented from approaching the State Palace.

One of the demands was that a regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) be issued to annul the revisions to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Law.

A similar action was also held in the South Sulawesi provincial capital of Makassar.

The difference was that the students in Makassar blockaded Jalan Sultan Alauddin street, detained two trucks and set fire to used tyres.

The field coordinator of the student action in Makassar, Razak Usman, criticised the government’s alleged bias in development and demanded that President Widodo make pro-people policies.

“We demand the upholding of legal supremacy, reject amendments to the constitution, reject the Omnibus Law, want Law Number 19/2019 revoked, reject simultaneous regional elections, reject the removal of fuel subsidies and urge Jokowi to resolve the handling of Covid-19,” said Usman.

Students in the Central Java provincial capital of Semarang held a long-march from the Old City area to the office of the Central Java Governor, Ganjar Pranowo.

Upon arriving at the governor’s office they took turns in giving speeches. A number of different issues were taken up, including resolving past human rights violations, the Omnibus Law on Job Creation and the weakening of the KPK.

“What has resulted from Jokowi so far? Where are his promises?,” asked action coordinator Fajar Sodiq.

“Resolving past human rights violations are not heard, the Omnibus Law oppresses the ordinary people, and now we are witnessing efforts to weaken the KPK. Where [are the results of] Jokowi’s work?”

As the students were protesting, President Widodo was visiting South Kalimantan where he officiated at the opening of a biodiesel factory, a bridge and monitored covid-19 vaccinations.

The biodiesel factory, which is located in Tanah Bumbu, is managed by the PT Jhonlin Group owned by Samsudin Andi Arsyad alias Haji Isam.

President Widodo said he appreciated the processing of palm oil into biodiesel and said he hoped that other countries would follow Jhonlin’s example in processing palm oil into biofuel.

“Downstreaming, industrialisation, must be done and we must force ourselves to do it. Because of this, I greatly respect what is being done by the PT Jhonlin Group in building a biodiesel factory”, said Widodo.

Meanwhile, Greenpeace Indonesia has published a damning new report about Indonesia’s palm oil industry and the devastation of rainforests.

Translated by James Balowski for Indoleft News. The original title of the article was “Demo di Sejumlah Kota, Jokowi Resmikan Pabrik di Kalsel”.

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