Be Cool in Face of Protests, Court Chief Tells Govt
Jakarta. As the first-year anniversary of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s presidential term fast approaches, Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD had these words for the government.
“Government officials should be cool in facing [the protest rallies],” Mahfud said at the House of Representatives on Monday, before meeting with the president and other officials.
“[They] should not panic. [Rallies are] a common thing that happen everyday,” he added.
On Oct. 20, the one-year anniversary of Yudhoyono’s second presidential term, several organizations are planning to conduct massive demonstrations. They believe that Yudhoyono has failed in leading the country and is therefore suggesting that he step down.
Hatta Rajasa, the coordinating minister for the economy, has recently said that people should hold dialogues with the government instead of demonstrations. This way, the government would have the opportunity to explain their achievements, he said.
He added that forcing the president to step down is unconstitutional and that people should just wait for the next election.
Meanwhile, Jakarta Police Chief Insp. Gen. Soetarman said on Monday that he would deploy 19,000 police officers to secure the demonstration. They will be placed in several strategic spots, such as the House of Representatives building, the Presidential Palace, the Monument of Independence Declaration and the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle.
Soetarman said that there were no indications of a looming riot. “I think our people are aware of conducting demonstrations peacefully,” he said. “If anarchy occurs, when will the nation develop?”
He added that as a institution that serves and protects the public, the police will protect the demonstration.
“[The demonstration] is allowed by the law. It is a part of democracy. Therefore, the police will secure it, not stand against it,” Soetarman said.