Man Sets Self Alight Beside State Palace


A man is in critical condition with 95 percent burns on his body after he apparently set himself alight beside the State Palace.

The man, believed to be in his 40s, doused himself in petrol and torched himself near the palace on Wednesday before running towards a billboard bearing the photograph of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Jakarta police spokesman Baharudin Djafar confirmed the incident, saying investigations are underway.

“He had apparently set himself on fire and the police had rescued him. He’s in a critical condition with 95 percent burns on his body,” he said on Thursday.

“We have yet to determine his identity. We don’t know what spurred him to commit the act as there’s no eye-witness,” he added.

A doctor said the man was hooked up on a respirator to help him breathe and has a slim chance of surviving.

The man had reportedly shouted anti-government messages but Djafar played down speculations that he had been protesting against the government or the president.

“We can’t make such a link at this point,” he said.

Presidential adviser Daniel Sparingga said Yudhoyono had been informed of the incident and “expressed his sympathy and concern.”

“At this moment, our focus is to do all we can to save his life. We think that every living creature is a blessing from God,” he said.

“We regret the action and hope it will not be repeated,” he added.

Protests are common in Indonesia but self-immolation is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

Yudhoyono’s popularity rankings have slumped despite strong economic growth, amid corruption and incompetence across all levels of the state. He was sworn in at the start of his second five-year term on October 20 2009.

The first Indonesian president to be directly elected, Yudhoyono has won two clear mandates to get tough on corruption but he is seen as too weak and indecisive to take on powerful vested interests.

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