Mon, 29 Dec 2003

Golkar legislators' supporters hold protest against party

Andi Hajramurni and A'an Suryana, The Jakarta Post, Makassar/Jakarta

Around 100 angry rank-and-file Golkar Party supporters held a demonstration here on Saturday to protest the change in priority numbers given to some of its legislative candidates for the 2004 election.

In their protest, held in front of the office of the party's Makassar Representative, the crowd criticized the decision by Golkar leaders to rearrange the priority election number of at least two high-profile candidates from South Sulawesi.

They were apparently enraged because their favorite legislative candidates, such as Marwah Daud Ibrahim and Nurhayati Yasin Limpo, had been given lower priority numbers.

Marwah was previously allocated the first slot on the list of Golkar legislative candidates from South Sulawesi -- the fairly large province will get at least 24 seats in the House of Representatives (DPR). However, when the documents were finally submitted by the Golkar leadership, she was placed as number four on the list. Nurhayati fell from number four to number seven.

According to the 2004 general election regulations, the higher the priority number that a candidate has will mean a greater chance of being elected as a legislator for the House of Representatives (DPR) in any given province. Of South Sulawesi's 24 legislators, Golkar expects to fill 16 DPR seats, based on projections of votes it will garner. If the party were to win 16 seats, the top 16 ranked candidates would be given the seats, and both Marwah and Nurhayati would easily qualify.

One of the protesters, Andre, asserted that the rearrangement indicated that Golkar Party was preoccupied with its old patterns, in which the party bosses in Jakarta still ruled the regions and never allowed local party officials to make key decisions.

They added that such a policy was wrong, because the regions knew the quality of their people much better than the party bosses in Jakarta.

"This rearrangement shows that the current Golkar is still identical with the old Golkar. They have put on the sidelines people who do good for the region, and placed people who have done nothing good for us in a higher position," he said.

Separately, a source at the party's central board said that Marwah was dropped from the number one rank to four over disputes between Marwah and other party members from South Sulawesi.

The source said that Marwah, as the coordinator for Golkar's South Sulawesi region and was responsible for proposing the ranks of the Golkar legislative candidates from South Sulawesi, had not taken input from other party members in shortlisting the legislative candidates from the region.

The four key members -- Ibrahim Ambong, Ibnu Munzir, Samsul Bahri and Yasril Ananta Baharudin -- were angry over Marwah's solo run, and they complained to the bosses in Jakarta who determine the election number for legislative candidates, including Akbar Tandjung, the chairman of Golkar. "After a meeting in Jakarta, the team sought a middle way, and Marwah was then dropped from number one to four," he said.

Ibrahim Ambong confirmed that there was a dispute between the four and Marwah, but he fell short of saying whether the dispute led to the decision by the team to drop Marwah in the rankings. "You'd better ask the team (Golkar leaders)," he told The Jakarta Post. The team members were not available for comment on Saturday.