Mon, 20 Nov 2000

Justice Party calls for contemplation

JAKARTA (JP): The Islamic-based Justice Party (PK) has called on political and community leaders to use the upcoming fasting month as a time for contemplation and to improve themselves.

"All leaders, experts and economic practitioners should stop expressing controversial statements, opinions, behavior and policy. They should all seek God's mercy," said PK chairman M. Hidayat Nur Wahid at PK's religious gathering at Ragunan, South Jakarta, on Sunday.

The gathering was held to welcome the fasting month, which starts on Nov. 27, and was attended by over 1,000 people, including several notable religious leaders like former Indonesian Council of Ulemas chairman Ali Yafie, Nahdlatul Ulama central board chairman Salahudin Wahid and former party chairman Nurmahmudi Ismail, who is currently junior minister for forestry.

Without directly calling on the President to resign, Hidayat urged Abdurrahman Wahid to face calls for his resignation and other criticism as objectively and as fairly as possible.

"The demand is realistic and appropriate because his government has yet to accommodate and protect the Indonesian people," he said.

Therefore, Hidayat added, Abdurrahman must reevaluate his ability to lead the country and put its interest above anything else.

"Gus Dur (as the President is popularly known) should not be over confident, and challenge or underestimate his critics. We urge him to use his conscience and conduct istikharah prayer to ask God whether he is still qualified to be a leader or not," he said.

Gus Dur's influence as a leader, Hidayat said, is questionable following the failure of the National Police and the Attorney General's Office to arrest former president Soeharto's son Hutomo Mandala Putra, who is known as Tommy.

Hidayat said the Justice Party neither supports nor disagrees with calls for Abdurrahman to resign as the matter is more of a constitutional discourse.

"That's the job of People's Consultative Assembly and House of Representatives. Both should be sensitive to the peoples' demands and should ask for the government's accountability," he said.

The Justice Party, he added, sees the upcoming fasting month as the last opportunity for leaders to contemplate and improve themselves.

"If not, we may urge that the matter be up on a constitutional level," he said.

Separately, Salahudin, who is also Abdurrahman's younger brother, said that there is no constitutional reason for the President to resign.

"Therefore, a special session of the Assembly is unlikely to happen as there is no reason to," he said.(hdn)