Tue, 11 Mar 2003

Councillors say Mega is undemocratic

Yuli Trisuwarni and Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Bandung/Medan

Several West Java councillors from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) lambasted their own chairwoman for "discouraging democracy" ahead of the gubernatorial election.

A member of the PDI Perjuangan faction in the provincial legislature, Dedy Hermansyah, said on Monday a group of 18 councillors would urge Chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri to revoke her order which stipulates the sole nomination of Rudy Harsa Tanaya, the current chairman of the party's provincial chapter, for the deputy gubernatorial post.

"We are upset about (Megawati's) order to only nominate Rudy, which is undemocratic because it undermines the will and choice of our faction members," Dedy said.

The councillors, along with other party executives across the country, will attend a national meeting in Jakarta from Monday to Wednesday.

He said he and the other councillors who opposed Rudy's candidacy, had been intimidated by a threatening mob, who were sent to protest last week and demand that all of the party's 30 representatives in the legislature comply with Megawati's order.

Some 300 PDI Perjuangan heavies calling themselves the Indonesian Young Bulls descended upon the legislature for the third time in a week on Thursday to put pressure on PDI Perjuangan councillors.

"This is a new kind of coercion, which will affect our objectivity in choosing a future West Java leader," Dedy said.

Megawati, who is also the President, reportedly prefers a gubernatorial candidate with a military background as Rudy has.

Chairman of the PDI Perjuangan faction in the West Java legislature, Rahardi Zakaria, has proposed that Megawati fire any councillor who refuses to vote for Rudy.

Apart from participating in a national meeting to discuss new legislation on political parties and elections, PDI Perjuangan executives from North Sumatra will seek chairwoman Megawati's advice on the party's gubernatorial candidate during their stay in Jakarta.

Budi Mulia Bangun, one of 30 North Sumatra councillors invited to the meeting in Jakarta, said Megawati had asked the faction at the provincial legislature to vote for one gubernatorial candidate during the upcoming election in May.

Budi is one of six party members who have registered for the gubernatorial election. Other candidates are House legislators Benny Pasaribu and Maj. Gen. (ret) RK Sembiring Meliala, provincial councillors Baskami Ginting and Jhon Toguh Damanik and businessman Roy Fachraby Ginting.

The party's North Sumatra chapter has decided to name its chairman Rudolf Pardede as its candidate. But to everybody's surprise Rudolf registered for the deputy gubernatorial election.

Deputy chairman of the PDI Perjuangan faction at the provincial legislature, Zakaria Bangun, confirmed Megawati's concern of a split in the party ahead of the gubernatorial election, which may cost the party's bid for the post.