Tue, 05 Aug 2003

Communism is dead, corruption a bigger threat: Observer

Tiarma Siboro and A'an Suryana, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Rights activists called on politicians on Monday to have an open mind on Communism, saying the ideology was no longer a threat to the country for the time being.

Noted rights activist Todung Mulya Lubis said countries that embraced Communism as their ideology had collapsed, and that "Indonesian politicians are overreacting in viewing the ideology".

"Politicians are overreacting because Communism is no longer posing a threat to both the country and the world because the ideology itself had collapsed," Todung said.

Sharing Todung's view was Solahuddin Wahid, a deputy chairman of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM).

"The government cannot prohibit people from expressing their thoughts on communist teachings, despite stern regulations banning them from following it," Solahuddin said.

He stressed that instead of Communism, the country was facing threats of possible collapse due to rampant corruption practices and the government's failure to promote policies favorable to the people.

Todung and Solahuddin were commenting on the decision of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) to withdraw its proposal to repeal a 1966 decree banning the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and the dissemination of Communism, Marxism and Leninism in the country.

The decision, which dashed any hope for eliminating the discrimination of suspected PKI members and their families, was made public on Sunday during the preliminary hearing of People's Consultative Assembly Commission B in charge of identifying decrees to be repealed during the current Annual Session.

Todung blamed PDI Perjuangan for its failure to use the ongoing session to erase the so-called "communal sins" leveled against suspected PKI members and their families following the shadowy attempted "coup" in 1965.

"I'm curious whether the proposal has been made merely as a means of political horse-trading with certain parties, including the military, instead of expressing genuine concern over the fate of suspected PKI members and their families.

"We know that certain parties in the country are reluctant to be honest in disclosing the history behind the 1965 coup blamed on the PKI," said Todung, referring to questions as to who benefited from the 1965 incident that led to the transfer of power from then president Soekarno to Soeharto, who at the time was a three-star Army general.

Soekarno is the father of Megawati Soekarnoputri, the incumbent President and chairperson of PDI Perjuangan, the largest faction in the MPR.

Permadi, a legislator from the PDI Perjuangan faction, said Monday that his party had suggested the revocation of the Communism decree.

The revocation of the decree would get rid off discrimination against suspected PKI members and their family members and allow former PKI members and their families to cast their votes in the 2004 general election, when the country will hold its first ever direct presidential elections.

"They (families of suspected PKI members) must not be barred from seeking jobs in government offices. The sins of PKI members must not be inherited by their descendants.

"We also have to grant them political rights in general elections," said Permadi, referring to the newly enacted election law, which, among other things, stipulates that legislative candidates should not be implicated in the 1965 coup.