Fri, 19 Aug 1994

Matori makes scathing attack on PPP leader

JAKARTA (JP): United Development Party (PPP) Secretary General Matori Abdul Djalil -- with an eye on the party leadership -- made a scathing attack yesterday on incumbent chairman Ismail Hasan Metareum, saying that the party's poor showing in the last election was attributed to the leadership.

Matori told a press conference that the party would continue to lose its supporters if it maintained its current strategy.

The strategy applied by the present board of executives under Ismail Hasan Metareum had failed to significantly raise PPP's standing in the 1992 general election, he said.

"It's possible that PPP will become history if it doesn't keep its house in order," he said at a press conference held after he treated journalists to a luncheon at the Pulau Dua restaurant.

Matori formally announced his intention to run for the leadership election yesterday, to be held at the party's congress which begins on Aug. 28.

He said he had the support of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) faction.

Leaders of NU, the largest of the four Islamic factions in the PPP, have not formally named their choice of candidates for the PPP leadership. Besides Matori, other NU figures who are known to aspire to the PPP top post include legislator Hamzah Haz, senior NU politician Yusuf Hasyim and Karmani, chairman of the PPP's Central Java executive board.

However, the incumbent chairman Ismail Hasan, who hails from the Muslimin Indonesia faction, appears to have the upper hand with support from the leaders of most of the party's regional boards, who will also make up the bulk of the congress participants.

Record high

The run-up of the party congress has been dominated by a fierce power struggle involving politicians from MI and those from NU. The post of secretary general has been traditionally reserved for an NU figure in compensation for allowing MI to retain the chairmanship.

Matori, who is also a member of the House of Representatives (DPR), said he was determined to take the party leadership because of his concern over the PPP's poor performance in the last three elections.

PPP's DPR seats reached a record high of 94 under the duo president of Idam Chalid and chairman Mintaredja in 1982 but under the flamboyant H.J. Naro, they nose dived to 60 after the 1987 election.

Under Ismail Hasan, the party's performance improved slightly in 1992 by adding one extra seat.

However, this pales in comparison to the 16 seats gained after the last election by the Indonesian Democratic Party.

PDI's rising popularity has worried many PPP figures who think that the 1997 general election will demote PPP to third place. The party has come a distant second to Golkar in the last five elections.

With the PPP leadership election less than two weeks away, Matori now appeared to try to distance himself from Ismail Hasan.

Critics of the party leadership say that Matori and Ismail Hasan do not make good enough partners.

The two are acclaimed for their ability to suppress the notorious factional bickering within the party but their apparent lack of coordination has resulted in failure to improve the party's standing, the critics say.


Matori said he was worried that many more PPP's supporters would cross to either PDI or Golkar if the party did not change its tactics in the upcoming election. "PPP must be made a convenient home to its supporters," Matori said.

He lamented PPP leaders who put the interests of their factions above those of the party. "They should be aware that the party will succeed only if all the factions team up," he said.

PPP is an amalgam of four Moslem organizations: NU, MI, Perti and PSII.

In Matori's opinion, PPP has to play a more active role as a prime mover of democratization and an agent of development. "The government should ease its grip on political organizations so that they can function independently," he said.

He declined to comment if he had the backing of the government for his election bid, but said he had the endorsement of ulemas in the provinces.

He also refused to say anything about his chances of winning the chairmanship race, arguing that it was up to congress participants to decide who should lead PPP. (pan)