Tue, 01 Aug 2000

Akbar furious over Golkar flag burners

SEMARANG (JP): Chairman of Golkar Party Akbar Tandjung has urged the police to be tough on people who burned the party's flags during protests last week.

"We respect the law and we want the law to be enforced," Akbar, who is also the House of Representatives' speaker, said at a meeting with executives of Golkar's Central Java chapter on Sunday night.

"Golkar doesn't want to retaliate. We will let the people judge what has happened. The Golkar Party is a legal organization, which has an objective in line with national interests," he said.

In a rally on July 20 in Jakarta, students from the City Forum (Forkot) and City Network expressed their anger at Golkar's past involvement with former president Soeharto's New Order regime by burning dozens of Golkar flags and banners.

Some 200 protesters in Yogyakarta did the same during a commemoration of the fourth anniversary of the July 27 bloody takeover of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) headquarters, in which at least five people were killed and 149 injured; 23 people are reportedly still missing.

Golkar served as the New Order's political machine for more than three decades.

Akbar said that the protesters' acts were unlawful. "If Golkar is said to be wrong, what mistakes did it make? Was Golkar wrong because of its involvement with the New Order? Was everybody in the New Order wrong? I believe there are groups of people who want to ruin Golkar. Let the people judge."

Akbar said the pressure on Golkar would continue. "There are people who are worried about the awakening of Golkar Party," he said, adding that some of them are members of the Golkar Party faction at the House.

The East Java chapter of Golkar Party has filed the flag burning and vandalism by activists from the People's Democratic Party (PRD) and Indonesian Islamic Students Movement (PMII) with local police.

Chapter chairman Ridwan Hisyam told reporters at the police headquarters in Surabaya on Monday that the action had "damaged the democratic life of the country."

"We are deeply concerned as the action was committed by groups who claim to be reformists," he said.

Ridwan said that the anti-Golkar protests were orchestrated by a certain group. (har/nur/sur)