Mon, 23 Oct 2000

Indonesia suffers from leadership crisis: Arbi

JAKARTA (JP): National leaders should shed their narrow political interests and start working together to bring Indonesia out of the present endless crisis, noted political commentator Arbi Sanit said on Saturday.

The University of Indonesia scholar said the country was currently suffering from a leadership crisis in which not a single political leader in the country today was powerful enough to implement his or her policies.

"President Abdurrahman Wahid cannot carry out his policies effectively since he does not enjoy enough political support," Arbi was quoted by Antara as saying at a seminar at Diponegoro University in Semarang.

"Our problem now is that we have a weak government," he said.

The main political support for Gus Dur, as the President is popularly called, comes from the Nation Awakening Party (PKB) which he helped found in 1999 before the general election.

The party commands just 11 percent of the seats in the House of Representatives and the President has had to negotiate with other factions in the House to secure support for his policies.

Arbi contended that replacing the President with leaders of other major parties would not likely improve the political situation in Indonesia.

Among the names of alternatives to the President often cited were Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri who chairs the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), House Speaker Akbar Tandjung who chairs the Golkar party; and People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Chairman Amien Rais, who heads the National Mandate Party (PAN). PDI Perjuangan controls 34 percent of the House, Golkar 32 percent and PAN 7 percent.

"Just like Gus Dur, all the other leaders face the same problem: insufficient support," Arbi said.

He said that this political stand off was the consequence of the 1999 general elections which failed to produce an outright winner among the 48 parties contesting the country's first ever democratic poll in over 40 years.

"Even when he was elected President, Gus Dur did not enjoy full support from the MPR," Arbi said referring to the narrow victory over Megawati for the country's top job.

Arbi said the leadership crisis is also found in the House of Representatives, with politicians constantly bickering for their own political interests.

"The politicians have betrayed the people who elected them in the first place. The House has done virtually nothing for the people," he said.

He blamed Indonesia's present leadership crisis on Indonesia's first and second president, Sukarno and Soeharto, who together ruled the country between 1945 and 1998, virtually abolished the institutions and the sources needed to produce national leaders. (02)