Sat, 13 Mar 1999

KPU draws lots for numerical party order

JAKARTA (JP): Confusion and debate marked a lottery that decided on Friday the numerical order of 48 parties qualifying for the June 7 elections.

A hilarious scene ensued when 53 members of the newly established National Elections Committee (KPU) argued the merits of a lottery machine to determine the order of parties on ballot sheets.

"No! no! We do not want to use a machine, because it is prone to engineering. Let's go with the manual paper selection method," a KPU member shouted, prompting audience laughter.

The comment seemed to refer to the former government's alleged election rigging, which resulted in Golkar's election successes.

"It reminds us of the SDSB (philanthropic lottery to raise funds for sports) machine," another party representative said.

The SDSB was denounced as a form of gambling and banned in 1994.

The KPU, which comprises representatives of the 48 poll contestants and five government representatives, unanimously agreed to the manual selection.

Laughter punctuated the proceedings which lasted almost one and a half hours.

"Hooray... thank God! Our party got a very good number," Jakob Tobing of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) said. He raised his hand and waved while displaying the number 11.

The New Indonesia Party (PIB) representative, Sukarnotomo, was jubilant after his party was ranked first.

"Thank you God we are number one. It's the winner's number."

Golkar Party, which in the past had position number two, is now ranked 33rd. The United Development Party (PPP) and the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) are listed ninth and 32nd respectively.

Top poll contenders the National Mandate Party (PAN), the Crescent Star Party (PBB) and the National Awakening Party (PKB) are numbered 15, 22 and 35 respectively.

Last place was accorded to the Indonesian Workers Party (PPI).

"Well, we may be the last but not the least. People will easily remember us," said Saud Aritonang of PPI.

The session was interrupted when PBB representative Abdul Rachman Saleh demanded the KPU disqualify parties whose representatives did not attend the swearing in by President B.J. Habibie on Thursday.

Party representatives who refused to attend the KPU inauguration were from the Indonesian Uni Democracy Party (PUDI), Indonesian Democrats Alliance Party (PADI) and Democratic People's Party (PRD).

"The political party law does not say anything about whether KPU members are inaugurated by the President," PUDI chairman Sri Bintang Pamungkas said.

KPU chairman Gen. (ret) Rudini said the matter would be discussed on a separate occasion. (edt)