From overseas, SBY monitors
heightened tension at home:

JP/Ricky Yudhistira
JP/Ricky Yudhistira

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been keeping an eye on the intensifying social and political tensions in Indonesia ahead of the fuel price hike, even though he has been on foreign state visits since last week, presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said on Monday.

“The President keeps monitoring what is happening in Indonesia. The President believes demonstrations and protests are healthy in a democratic country, as long as they are carried out properly and lawfully,” Julian told Indonesian reporters in Seoul.

Yudhoyono arrived in Seoul on Sunday after completing a series of state activities in Beijing and Hong Kong.

He will attend the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul and is scheduled to have a number of bilateral meetings with country leaders who are also set to take part in the conference.

According to Julian, Yudhoyono has instructed the National Police to be the leading sector in all required measures to anticipate the massive rally said to be held on March 27.

“Should there be members of the TNI [Indonesian Military], their presence would be merely under the request from the police. It is not against the law that the police are calling soldiers for backup if necessary,” Julian said.

“Sometimes the police need the TNI to make sure there are no victims in handling protesters,” he added. “The police are now totally ready while the TNI is stand-by on call.”

Workers unions have previously warned that more than 150,000 workers would stage a major demonstration in Jakarta on Tuesday when the House and the government were scheduled to endorse the 2012 Revised State Budget.

The biggest opposition, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has announced its intention to join protestors rallying against fuel price increases on the same day, claiming that as many as 1 million PDI-P members would join the rallies across the country.

The Jakarta Police said the force would deploy 4,000 officers to guard the demonstration. (nvn)

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