Page last updated at 22:06 GMT, Saturday, 28 November 2009

Indonesia minister says immorality causes disasters

Swiss rescue workers at the Gama English School  in Padang on 3.10.09
The minister spoke in Padang, hit by a powerful earthquake in September

A government minister has blamed Indonesia's recent string of natural disasters on people's immorality.

Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring said that there were many television programmes that destroyed morals.

Therefore, the minister said, natural disasters would continue to occur.

His comments came as he addressed a prayer meeting on Friday in Padang, Sumatra, which was hit by a powerful earthquake in late September.

He also hit out at rising decadence - proven, he said, by the availability of Indonesia-made pornographic DVDs in local markets - and called for tougher laws.

According to the Jakarta Globe, his comments sparked an angry reaction on the internet, particularly among those who followed him on social networking site Twitter.

Why focus on public immorality when there was so much within the government, one respondent reportedly asked.

More than 1,000 people died in the Padang earthquake, which toppled hundreds of buildings in and around the city.

Padang lies to the south of Aceh province, which was devastated in the December 2004 Asian tsunami.

Indonesia lies across a series of geological fault-lines and is prone to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

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