Mon, 12 Jun 2000

Indonesian Axis to be launched

JAKARTA (JP): The "Indonesian Axis" (Poros Indonesia) is set to burst onto the political scene, bringing together a cross section of figures from various political backgrounds who want to improve the state of their respective parties.

However, founders of the Indonesian Axis, who are primarily members of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), maintain that their grouping is merely a vehicle to facilitate people's empowerment.

They stress that they are not a splinter of their respective parties and remain loyal to them.

The grouping is due to be officially launched on Monday evening with PDI Perjuangan's Eros Jarot as chairman.

"This is not a political organization. We are going to concentrate on empowering the people in economic, social, cultural and political life," Eros told journalists on Sunday.

He said the grouping was the brainchild of several PDI Perjuangan members, such as Zulvan Lidan, Haryanto Taslam, Mochtar Buchori and Laksamana Sukardi.

In its evolution, however, it has brought together figures from various backgrounds, such as Golkar Party's Ade Komaruddin and Syafri Hutahuruk; National Mandate Party's Bara Hasibuan and Faisal Basri; along with National Awakening Party's Aris Azhari Siagian.

Researchers and activists, such as Anggito Abimanyu, Bambang Widjojanto and Muchammad Ikhsan, are also noted as members.

Some have noted the significance of the grouping as comprising individuals who have been sidelined from parties to form a splinter group of major political parties, particularly PDI Perjuangan.

However, Eros maintains that it was born not out of "disappointment" but of a desire to bridge the widening gap between political parties and their grass roots constituents who were neglected after last year's general election.

"We feel political parties need assistance to empower their supporters. We are just a group of people with the consciousness to help realize people's expectations, as promised by political parties during the campaign," Eros remarked.

He further said political parties have become increasingly unstable and remain immature despite their wide support and ascension to power.

Eros said a "support group" was needed to enhance these parties' visions and abilities to be more useful to the general public.

Despite Eros' assertions, it is an undeniable fact that the Indonesian Axis came to be only after the March PDI Perjuangan congress which reelected Megawati Soekarnoputri as chairperson.

There were strong efforts to foil any contenders, including Eros. Many noted PDI Perjuangan figures in the past have also been sidelined in the new central board.

It has also led to speculation that the Indonesian Axis is a vehicle for Eros and other PDI Perjuangan members to regain their political leverage.

Eros underlined on Sunday that the grouping has no intention of being a new political power and that any politician joining must be committed to removing their respective party attributes during the grouping's work and make it their main priority.

"We would like to be Indonesian people first and then be members of political parties," he asserted.

Haryanto Taslam, a former PDI Perjuangan secretary-general, also denied suggestions that the grouping was formed out of bitterness.

He claimed that the initial idea to form the organization was conceived before the congress, and that the Indonesian Axis and PDI Perjuangan would never clash head on.

"We work in different fields and we are going to be the interlocutor for political parties to reach the people. We are not in the practical political field," Haryanto asserted.

The group said it is was targeting the middle class as its support base because this remained an extremely potential yet untapped, and often forgotten, public force.

Separately, PDI Perjuangan's faction secretary at the People's Consultative Assembly, Heri Akhmadi, seemed nonplused by the new grouping.

He "welcomed" it and expressed hope that it could be complementary and improve the party's human resources.

"We realize our weakness in human resources, so we hope the presence of such a group will educate our supporters," Heri told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

His comment was mild in comparison to a statement made by PDI Perjuangan deputy chairman Theo Syafei several weeks earlier, threatening axis members with possible expulsion.

Indonesian Axis' members said their first endeavor would be to focus on improving the welfare of farmers in five areas selected as pilot projects.

"We cannot mention the names of the areas because we want to keep a low profile to anticipate the politization of these projects, but we will report to the public on them later on," Eros said.

The axis already boasts to having five branch offices: Central and South Sulawesi, South Kalimantan, Lampung and Jakarta. (dja)