Wed, 24 Aug 1994

Harmoko revamps Golkar wing at the House

JAKARTA (JP): The unprecedented reshuffle in the House of Representatives (DPR) wing of Golkar, announced on Monday, reflects the ruling party's intention to stop dissension within its own ranks once and for all, political analysts said.

Golkar chairman Harmoko revamped Golkar in a single stroke, removing members closely associated with his predecessor Wahono from key positions.

Usman Hasan, the Golkar faction chairman, was replaced after holding the top spot for less than two years. Normally this and other key positions in the factions are held for five years.

This is the most important move taken by Harmoko since he replaced Wahono last October. Wahono will continue to retain influence in Golkar's faction in the DPR through his loyal supporters. He also remains both speaker of the house and the chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly.

Harmoko after announcing the new leadership of Golkar on Tuesday stressed that the changes were a routine matter with no political considerations behind the selections.

The changes did not come as a surprise as they have been widely rumored for the past few months.

Noted political analyst Amir Santoso yesterday said the shake- up reflects Harmoko's intention to improve communication and strengthen the relationship between his executive board and the Golkar faction in the DPR.

"I believe there has been a problem of internal communication. The old faction leaders have been replaced because they failed to communicate with the board," Amir told The Jakarta Post.

The executive board appeared to be focusing on promoting a united front between the faction and the board, which in the past has been beset by disagreements, said Amir, a senior staff lecturer at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Indonesia.

Amir noted that the executive board and the faction have been walking on their own paths, chiefly because the faction members have been disappointed by the board's performance.

Some Golkar members in the DPR have been among the government's chief critics, something which was encouraged by Wahono when he chaired the ruling political organization.

With Harmoko at the helm, criticism against the government is expected to decline significantly, especially following the reshuffle.

Too early

Harmoko, the first civilian to rise to the Golkar chairmanship, also serves as Minister of Information in President Soeharto's cabinet.

Amir said it is too early to predict if the reshuffle would create more problems in Golkar rather than improve its general performance. "They (new members) are still new in their area. It remains to be seen how they will lead the faction."

He said that the outspoken legislators remain in the fold although they no longer hold key positions. This means that they could still launch their criticism against Golkar or the government.

Harmoko has appointed Moestahid Astari as the new faction chairman while Andi Mattalatta was promoted to secretary in place of Novyan Kaman.

Astari is currently the deputy secretary general of the central executive board. His political career was thought to have ended after the 1992 general election when he failed to secure a House seat as a candidate from East Java. He gained the seat in 1993 to replace Mien Sugandhi who was appointed minister of women's affairs by President Soeharto.

Astari also sits on the executive board of the Association of Indonesian Islamic Intellectuals (ICMI).

Usman, once seen as a young and promising Golkar politician, has been assigned as an ordinary member of the DPR's Commission IV which deals with farming, forestry and fishery.

Two other outspoken Golkar legislators, Tadjudin Noer Said and Bambang Warih, have been reassigned from Commission VI (mining, industry, electricity and investment) to the house's budgetary commission.

Astari in his first press briefing also tried to play down the significance of the reshuffle by saying that he would continue the policies of his predecessors which do not contradict with the directives of the executive board.

Astari said he never had any pretense that the faction had failed to do its job at the House, adding that the reshuffle simply aimed at "refreshing" the legislators. (par)