Sat, 03 Apr 2004

Elders call for informed vote

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A number of former officials of the New Order government, activists and public figures signed a public statement on Friday urging people to use their critical faculties when voting.

"Vote for leaders instead of rulers," said the statement, called the Jakarta Communique, signed by dozens of well-respected citizens.

Among them were former home affairs minister Surjadi Soedirja, former Army deputy chief Lt. Gen.(ret) Kiki Syahnakri, former National Police chief Gen. (ret) Awaloeddin Djamin, former religious affairs minister Quraish Shihab. Activists Sulastomo and A. Mubarok, and journalist Rosihan Anwar also signed the statement.

"It is important for us to think rationally when casting our votes," Surjadi said. He urged the public to use their votes on April 5 to bring about change in the country.

The drawing up of the statement was initiated by the National Identity Foundation (Yayasan Jatidiri Bangsa), the Straight Path Movement (Gerakan Jalan Lurus) and the Indonesia Resurrection Front (Barisan Kebangkitan Indonesia Raya).

Earlier on Thursday evening, a number of politicians, performers and academics formed an alliance in the hope of encouraging people to vote for credible leaders in both the legislative and presidential elections.

The alliance, named the Alliance for Change, sees itself acting as an opposition group if the elections fail to produce clean and credible leaders. It is calling on the public not to vote for "rotten politicians or political parties".

Among the attendees at the meeting were scholar Nurcholish Madjid, presidential aspirant Siswono Yudo Husodo, former attorney general Marsillam Simanjuntak, former military chief of staff Lt. Gen. (ret) Agus Widjojo, and former TNI chief Gen. (ret) Eddy Sudrajat, who also leads the Indonesian United Justice Party (PKPI).

The other attendees included activist Teten Masduki, Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) leader Hidayat Nur Wahid, National Mandate Party (PAN) deputy leader AM Fatwa, and noted poets and composers Emha Ainun Nadjib and Harry Roesli.

"This year's elections might be successful in terms of the procedures, but will not be in terms of substance," said Nurcholish, who has withdrawn his bid to run as a Golkar Party presidential candidate.

Thus, in the long term the alliance should think of setting itself up as an opposition grouping, Nurcholish said, to protect the country from leaders "who will bring us to the brink of collapse."

The alliance should also support promising coalitions of parties, he added.