By Yuli Tri Suwarni
Dozens of students from the Indonesian Muslim Students Action Association (KAMMI) rallied at the West Java Legislative Council in Bandung on Tuesday to protest the purchase of 100 cars for councilors.
"It's shameful; they haven't done anything yet, and they still want new cars," said West Java KAMMI chairman Andriyana.
"Meanwhile 5.4 million people in West Java people still live in poverty."
He added the Rp 20.1 billion (S$3 million) fund for the purchase of the cars showed the councilors were insensitive to conditions on the ground.
The rally dispersed an hour later after a female student fainted.
On Dec. 24, the council approved Rp 20.1 billion to purchase the cars.
It also approved Rp 3.4 billion to purchase five cars for the council speaker and his four deputies.
Councilors had also previously demanded a housing allowance increase.
Awing Asmawi, chairman of the council's budget committee, said the purchase of the cars was aimed at "smoothing the mobility of the councilors".
"We're buying the cars to improve our performance," said the Democratic Party councilor. "We're newly elected legislators. If we were to get used cars, it would demotivate us."
He added councilors had demanded the housing allowance be raised from Rp 7.5 million a month to Rp 10 million, after refusing to use the officially provided homes, which they deemed too far from the council building.
West Java administration spokesman Edi S. Holil said earlier the administration would not purchase new cars for councilors since the old ones, bought in 2006 and 2007, were still working fine.
Provincial procurement office head Sutjipto said the allocation of funds to buy the cars was done unilaterally by the council.
He added that under Home Ministry regulations, official cars should only be provided to the council speaker, deputy speakers and commission heads.
Provincial planning board head Denny Juanda Puradimaja admitted the proposal to purchase the cars had been included in the 2010 West Java budget, but said he would take the issue up with the ministry.
"We need to consult on this because of the different regulations," he said. "But the councilors definitely need new rides."
Of the 100 councilors, 28 are from the Democratic Party, 17 from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), 16 from the Golkar Party and 13 from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).
Another eight each are from the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and the United Development Party (PPP), five from the National Mandate Party (PAN), three from the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) and two from the National Awakening Party (PKB).