JAKARTA – Indonesia said Thursday it will enforce a ban on buffalo at street protests after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed his hurt at being compared to one of the bucolic beasts.
Yudhoyono confirmed his reputation as one of the more sensitive world leaders when he spoke out against protesters who stuck his picture on one of the powerful but docile farm animals during a protest in Jakarta last week.
The softly spoken ex-general said he took exception at being lampooned as “big, slow and stupid like a buffalo”.
“Do you think this is an expression of freedom?” he asked reporters on Tuesday during a trip to West Java, where buffalo are a common sight in rice paddies and fields.
Asked Thursday whether the government would take action to protect Yudhoyono from buffalo slurs in the future, State Secretary Sudi Silalahi said a long-standing ban on the beasts at protests would be enforced.
“There’s a law that’s been violated… which states clearly that protesters should not bring animals, buffaloes,” he said.
“Firstly, that’s a violation of the law, and secondly, which is more critical, when buffaloes are angry they’ll kick and gore.”
Yudhoyono was re-elected to a second five-year term in a landslide in July but he is often criticised for being slow, indecisive and failing to use his mandate for reform.