JAKARTA  - Thousands of Indonesians protested across the country Wednesday against a proposed fuel hike, with violence which broke out in one city injuring a policeman, police said.
Around 4,000 workers protested “peacefully” in front of the state palace in the capital, Jakarta police spokesman Rikwanto told AFP.
“There was some pushing and shoving because so many people were packed but the protest went without incident,” he said.
But in the North Sumatra provincial capital of Medan, about 300 students brought down an iron gate in front of the provincial parliament building and threw rocks and motorcycle helmets at police, an AFP correspondent saw.
“A policeman suffered serious injuries on his eyebrow and head and was taken to the hospital. Thirty students were detained by police for questioning,” Medan city police chief Monang Situmorang told reporters.
“The brutal act by the students was intolerable. We will thoroughly investigate this matter,” he added.
Indonesia is considering raising fuel prices or lowering the current subsidy to private vehicles in anticipation of rising global oil prices. The government is expected to make a decision by the end of March.
In Makassar, provincial capital of South Sulawesi, 300 protesting students damaged four vehicles, including an oil truck belonging to state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina.
They also chanted “Crush SBY, bring down SBY-Boediono regime”, referring to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s by his initials, an AFP photographer saw.
Under the current government subsidy scheme, private car and motorcycle owners are allowed to buy fuel at Rp 4,500 per litre.
Without the subsidy, private motorists would have to buy a higher-octane fuel, priced at above Rp 8,000.
The government last raised the price of subsidised fuel in May 2008 by an average of 30 percent to Rp 6,000 per litre.