Mon, 20 Nov 2000

Nation's fate not in hands of four people only: Amien

JAKARTA (JP): People's Consultative Assembly Speaker Amien Rais described as nonsense assertions that the fate of the country depended four-people alone -- President Abdurrahman Wahid, Vice President Megawati, House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tanjung and himself.

"I don't know who made that up, as though only four people can determine the fate of this country," he said during a dialog with the city executive council in Jambi on Sunday.

The dialogue is part of two-week tour by Amien and his entourage of eight Sumatra provinces which began on Nov. 5.

"If the four didn't exist, would Indonesia, with more than 200 million people, vanish? It's nonsense as there are many Indonesians who are qualified as leaders," he added as quoted by Antara.

Accompanied by Deputy Governor on Development Economy Uteng Suryadinata, Amien said that the problems faced by this country is everyone's responsibility, not a limited group of people or certain political elite.

As for criticism against him saying that he often says the wrong things, Amien said that to err is human.

Disagreement among political elite, he said, should not be exaggerated as such things are normal in a democracy and would hopefully lead to the growth of a prosperous and powerful country.

After completing his tour on Tuesday, Amien said that he would hold a meeting with a number of national leaders.

"We'll discuss what I've seen and learned during the journey," said Amien who also chairs the National Mandate Party (PAN).

Amien also said that based on the experience gained from his travels he felt that the threat of separatism was the biggest challenge facing the country.


Earlier on Saturday, Muhammadiyah deputy secretary general Rosyad Soleh, warned that polarization of the nation's two largest Muslim organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah, would only bring destruction to the country.

"If it really happens, Muslims in Indonesia will be paralyzed, as the two biggest Islamic organizations pose a strong and fundamental force in the country," Rosyad said as he opened a meeting of the executive board of Muhammadiyah's chapter here.

His remarks came in the wake of heightened tensions between the two organizations due to political bickering between the organizations' two senior figures -- Amien Rais and President Abdurrahman Wahid.

Both chaired their respective organizations before assuming official state functions.

Rosyad believes that "a certain group" was actually pitting the two Islamic organizations against each other by making use of the existing complex political and social situation.

"All cadres of Muhammadiyah and Muslims in general must take this trend into account," he said.

He further stressed that Muhammadiyah will consistently try to avoid any polarization and not be used as pawns in a political game.

Rosyad further emphasized that Amien's high profile and political enterprises should not be associated with Muhammadiyah as he already assumed the post of PAN chairman and Assembly Speaker.

"Fortunately the relations between the two biggest Islamic organizations remain harmonious," he stressed.(hdn)