Tue, 25 Oct 1994

Ministry defends Basofi's involvement in PDI case

JAKARTA (JP): The Ministry of Home Affairs yesterday defended the controversial involvement of the East Java governor in the crisis within the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI).

The director general of socio-political affairs of the ministry, Sutoyo NK, announced yesterday that Gov. Basofi Sudirman took the much-criticized initiative at the behest of the PDI leaders from 26 regencies. They had called on him to help solve their squabbles, he said.

Basofi has reportedly invited all regency leaders of the party to attend a meeting with him at his office today in an effort to solve the crisis. Sutoyo said the governor had reported to the minister about the activity.

However, the PDI central board has called Basofi's activity a blatant intervention into the party's internal problem which it said is against the country's political code of ethics as well as a violation of the law.

The crisis emerged last month after Latief Pudjosakti, a local PDI activist, set up a self-style executive board after he lost the election for the party's provincial leadership to Sutjipto, his main rival.

Latief's activity was overruled by the PDI central board but was supported by the local authorities. The East Java administration's policy has also been criticized by many political observers.

Director General Sutoyo said that Basofi just wanted to ask the PDI leaders what the real problem was among them.

Basofi was quoted by Kompas daily yesterday as saying that he was not scared by the PDI's threat to register a complaint with the minister of home affairs over the matter.

"Please do it. They can register a complaint with President Soeharto or even God if they want," he said. "I have nothing to be afraid of."

He said he has offered the party officials an opportunity to sit together to reach a negotiated solution to the conflict. Basofi said he took the initiative in his capacity as the patron of political development in his province.

He said he had no plan to make today's meeting an instrument to pave the way for Latief's executive board. To smoothen his plan for the meeting the governor has reportedly asked the PDI central board in Jakarta to annul its decision which confirmed Sutjipto as chairman of the East Java chapter of the party.

However, the party leadership has turned down his request, calling it intervention into the PDI's internal problems.

Director General Sutoyo also said that he believed the governor had taken the initiative to avoid the crisis from escalating into a serious conflict.

"If that happens he will be the first person to be held responsible," he said. (tis)