The ongoing gubernatorial meeting has added an unusual topic to its agenda: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s question on what the government could do to civilize street protesters.
Opening the two-day conference at Cipanas State Palace, which is supposed to focus on what the government will do over the next five years, Yudhoyono complained that people often forget civility when they take to the street to express their dissatisfaction.
Yudhoyono took offense at recent anti-government street demonstrations, in which protesters hurled profanities at him and his Cabinet ministers.
“We will also discuss how people in this country of Pancasila demonstrate in the street. We will discuss how people can conduct peaceful protests and respect others.”
The President was specifically referring to a demonstration at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle on Jan. 28 marking his 100 day in office.
The protesters led a water buffalo with a large picture of Yudhoyono attached to the animal’s left buttock. “Get down!!!” was the caption scribbled on top of the picture.
“[Protesters] screamed ‘SBY thief, [Vice President] Boediono thief and Cabinet ministers thieves’.
“Then there was a group of protesters leading a buffalo. They said ‘SBY is lazy, big and stupid, like a buffalo.’ Was that really a demonstration? Let’s discuss it,” he told the 33 governors in attendance.
Yudhoyono said that as part of political reforms, democracy is practised in a more dignified way.
The protests on Jan. 28 ended peacefully with no arrests.
In Jakarta, police named two activists with the Bastion of Democracy (Bendera) as defamation suspects for publicly accusing Yudhoyono’s son and legislator Edhie Baskoro’s re-election campaign team of accepting illegal funds.
Jakarta Metro Police spokesman Snr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar identified the activists as Mustar Bonaventura and Ferdi Semaun. They will be summoned for questioning on Thursday for allegedly “defaming state officials”.
Bonaventura and Ferdi were in hot water after they told the media they had evidence that Edhie and Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party presidential campaign team had received illegal funds from the troubled Bank Century.
Yudhoyono’s campaign team was made up of senior government officials, such as Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto, Youth and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng and lawmaker Edhie Baskoro.