Violence, no matter who initiates it, should never be condoned in civilized society. But violence is part of human nature and when people feel a sense of injustice, they often resort to violence.
In recent months, there have been growing incidents of violence across the country, especially in rural areas where agrarian communities are grappling with industrialization. This is understandable in a country on the rise.
But as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said a few months ago, agrarian reforms are critical to ensuring that farmers and their families are not disadvantaged as their lands are taken over by factories and housing estates. If we are to prevent social tensions and violence between city dwellers and rural communities, the government must urgently undertake these reforms.
Just how urgently was portrayed over the weekend when a 12-year-old boy was shot dead and at least two other residents were critically injured during a clash between the police and residents of the village of Limbang Jaya in South Sumatra.
National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar said the violence was provoked by residents hurling rocks at a passing police vehicle that was on its way to a meeting with villagers from Sri Bandung, Sri Tanjung and Sri Kembang.
The police were trying to mediate a land dispute between the Cinta Manis sugarcane plantation and the residents of 22 nearby villages. If we do not get proper land laws in place, such disputes will continue to tear apart our social fabric.
Unclear land laws have also held back infrastructure development, especially the construction of toll roads over the past decade. Without better infrastructure, the economy will be hobbled and our businesses will not be able to compete. Reforming land laws is one of the most critical tasks facing both the legislature and the government.