Gresik fires Rizal Ramli over alleged link to violent protests

Gresik fires Rizal Ramli over alleged link to violent protests
Published: 01 July 2008

The shareholders of state-owned cement producer PT Semen Gresik have fired president commissioner Rizal Ramli, following news he was allegedly involved in masterminding a student rally over fuel price rises that led to a riot.

At a meeting on Friday shareholders concluded that Rizal, who was coordinating minister for the economy during President Abdurrahman Wahid’s administration, was guilty of "ethical violations and unprofessional conduct".

In a brief statement after the meeting, president director Dwi Soetjipto refused to elaborate on the ethical violations, saying only that "the decision was made by the shareholders".

The government, represented by the State Ministry for State Enterprises, owns 51 per cent of shares in Semen Gresik. The remaining shares are owned by private companies. The noted economist had served as Semen Gresik’s chief commissioner for only six months before his expulsion from the board.

Rizal was a vocal opponent of the government’s decision to increase fuel prices.

He has been linked to Tuesday’s riots outside the House of Representatives, in which university students burned tires and cars and tore down parts of the House’s fences. The protest was held in response to the government’s decision to raise fuel prices by an average of 28.7 percent, effective May 24. The following day, police apprehended 29 people allegedly involved in the riots, two of whom were accused of inciting the riots. On Thursday, seven people were declared suspects in the case.

Rizal denied the links and accused the government of conspiring against him.