Tue, 25 Jan 2000

Don't use democracy to revive communism: Agung

JAKARTA (JP): Despite greater political freedom in the country, the Golkar Party stressed on Monday it would reject any attempts to revoke a 34-year-old decree which prohibits communism and Marxism.

The head of Golkar's central board, Agung Laksono, said the party's position on this matter was nonnegotiable.

"We are consistent in our policy of rejecting demands to revoke Provisional People's Consultative Assembly Decree No. 25/1966," he replied when asked by journalists.

The decree, enacted following the 1965 abortive communist coup, strictly prohibits communist and Marxist teachings in Indonesia and bans any political party adhering to the philosophy.

Without being specific, Agung said he had received reports that several legislators had received proposals calling for the decree to be revoked.

He conceded that the proposal may have been a result of the more lax political atmosphere, including releasing political prisoners who may have been associated with the communist movement in Indonesia in the past.

The government has said it would welcome Indonesians who have not been able to return home for decades because of their suspected support for communist ideology in Indonesia.

Following the abortive coup, a strong phobia of communist teachings emerged in Indonesia. It was followed by severe restrictions on various ethnic Chinese activities as it was suspected that China may have been connected to the attempted coup.

President Abdurrahman Wahid has eased such restrictions and last week the government officially revoked a ruling limiting the practice of Chinese ethnic traditions and culture here.

The fear of communism, however, apparently prevails.

Agung remarked that revoking the decree could open the flood gates which could revive defunct communist parties.

"We should remain vigilant," he asserted.

Agung further warned that people could also demand that communist-based parties be allowed to contest the next general election under the pretext of democracy.

He urged people not to be fooled by arguments of democratization or respect for human rights as a means of reviving communism in Indonesia.

"There's no advantage to even considering the decree being revoked," he asserted. (mds)