Sun, 14 Jan 2001

Megawati scolds wayward PDI-P legislators

JAKARTA (JP): Vice President and chairperson of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) Megawati Soekarnoputri scolded unscrupulous party legislators on Saturday for having tarnished the image of the party and of the parliament.

Speaking before more than 4,000 party legislators at the Senayan Sports Stadium, Megawati cited that in the past, numerous party cadres had breached party rules and were involved in internal bickering.

"But, since our victory in the 1999 general election, the 'disease' has infected party members in the legislative body and the provincial and regency legislative councils," she said.

Megawati said she had instructed the party's executive board to take strict action against such unscrupulous cadres, especially those in legislative bodies, calling such violations as no longer tolerable.

She did not elaborate the violations the party cadres had committed, but said that they had not only breached the party's internal rules, but also failed to fight for the party's interest in the legislature.

"Many are of the opinion that they are representing the public and not the party, while they have committed unpraiseworthy deeds. Upon listening to such reports, I have questioned some of them and wanted to slap their faces.

"They thought that they had gained their seats from the sky (not through the party)," she said in an emotional tone.

Megawati applauded programs held in connection with the party's 28th anniversary, saying that the programs are expected to improve the cadres' loyalty to the party.

"We must learn from these cases, so that the party will have qualified legislators in 2004 (next general election)," she said.

She also called on party cadres to maintain public confidence in the party and to fight for the values of party supporters' and to work hard for victory in the next elections.

"Party cadres should bear in mind that their main mission is to fight for people's aspirations and are obliged to maintain public confidence in the party in facing the next elections," she said.

Pramono Anung Wibowo, the party's deputy secretary-general, said Megawati was slated to announce the list of immoral cadres as well as the sanctions against them on Sunday.

"The 14 cadres who have been found guilty of committing major violations will be dismissed from the party, 28 others will be discharged from their current position in the party and dozens of others who have committed minor violations will be given warnings," Pramono said.

He conceded that many party legislators would be discharged for "selling" their votes in past elections of governors and regents.

He cited the elections of regents and mayors in Medan, North Sumatra; North Lampung in Lampung; and Semarang, Klaten and Sragen, all in Central Java. Several party legislators at the Irian Java provincial legislative council were also allegedly involved in such practices during the recent gubernatorial election of the province.

Sabam Sirait, a senior party figure, conceded the presence of some party's unqualified legislators at provincial and regency legislative councils due to the hasty recruitment of legislative candidates in previous elections.

"We must accept the reality that some of the PDI Perjuangan legislators are not qualified, although they have a fighting spirit. Now, they must be given training to be more skillful in performing their duties as legislators, while the party must review its recruitment system in a bid to have qualified legislators in 2004," he said.

Outspoken PDI Perjuangan legislator, Aberson Marle Sihaloho, said many party legislators have become disoriented because of the party's unclear set of policies and principles.

"The party must spell out the Constitution in a common platform, which should be taken by party legislators as guidance in fighting for people's aspirations," he said. (rms)