Khairul Saleh and Slamet Susanto , The Jakarta Post , Palembang, Yogyakarta | Mon, 06/02/2008 10:20 AM | National
Political moves against the government’s fuel price increase are gaining further support, with the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) joining the opposition bloc at the House of Representatives aiming to officially question the policy.
PKS leader Tifatul Sembiring said on Saturday the Muslim-based party had suggested that the government exhaust alternative measures, advice that was apparently unheeded.
“Our advice for a solution, among others, is implementing a cross subsidy to cover the state deficit resulting from the crude oil price hike. As we know, exports of coal, nickel, gas, gold and silver are not affected by the oil price increase,” Tifatul said on the sideline of a campaign for the party’s candidates for the mayoral election in Palembang.
Other factions planning to question the government’s fuel policy are the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) and the National Awakening Party (PKB).
Only 12 signatures of support are required to file a petition to summon the president, according to the House’s standing order. However, the three factions, minus some PKB lawmakers who are likely to be pro-government following an internal rift, are short of more than 50 votes to make the House endorse the president’s summons.
If the House plenary approves the political move, the president or his representatives must appear before a plenary session to explain the policy in question and face the music from lawmakers. If the explanation is deemed unsatisfactory, lawmakers can initiate an inquiry into alleged violations committed by the government in creating the policy.
The government raised the fuel prices by an average 28.7 percent on May 24, and is distributing Rp 100,000 per poor family per month until December to mitigate the impacts of the policy.
Secretary of PKS faction at the House, Mustafa Kamal, said representatives of the party, PDI-P, PKB, the Prosperous Peace Party (PDS) and National Mandate Party (PAN) had been discussing a plan to summon the president.
Protests against the fuel price increase continued on Sunday across the country.
In Jakarta hundreds of supporters of the People’s Struggle Front (FPR) and Hitzbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) rallied outside the Merdeka Palace in Central Jakarta to demand that the government revoke the fuel price hike.
The two groups staged the rally in separate sections in front of the palace.
Children were seen among the rally held by the Muslim-based HTI, which outnumbered the FPR supporters.
In Yogyakarta, hundreds of students, farmers, street singers and pro-poor activists gathered outside the city’s postal office after a march, demanding that the government cancel the fuel price hike and the direct cash assistance for the poor.
The rally coincided with a dangdut music festival, which took place in front of the Gedung Agung Presidential Palace nearby. Some protesters believed the music performance was aimed at appeasing the demonstrators.
Earlier in the day, HTI and PKS supporters held a joint rally to renounce the government’s fuel policy.