Tue, 13 Jun 2000

New axis a force to be reckoned with: Observers

YOGYAKARTA (JP): Political observers predicted the newly born "Indonesian Axis" could become a dominant political force in the future as long it constrains itself and avoids direct confrontation with the political elite until after the next general election.

Political observer Cornelis Lay said here on Monday that the grouping's executives should not be tempted to instantly seek political gains.

Instead he urged them to maintain the uniqueness of the new organization.

The Indonesian Axis was officially launched Monday night in Jakarta.

It features figures predominantly from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) and from several other political parties and organizations.

A PDI Perjuangan member Eros Djarot, who was elected chairman of the axis, maintains that the grouping aims to help empower the general public and was not formed as a splinter party or out of disappointment at the fact that they may be sidelined from their parties.

Other notable PDI Perjuangan members in the organization are Zulvan Lidan, Haryanto Taslam, Muchtar Buchori, and Laksamana Sukardi.

PDI Perjuangan executives have been nonplus to the organization saying they should work complementary to each other.

Since the axis does not yet have a strong mass support base, Cornelis said Monday it would be a setback if the grouping immediately engages in practical politics where public discourse is used as a tool for politicians to attack each other.

"(By getting into politics now) The Indonesian Axis may be engaged in an adverse atmosphere, where public discourse is used by politicians to undermine their political rivals," the Gadjah Mada University political scientist told The Jakarta Post.

He further said the unavoidable fact that the grouping was established by figures from assorted political backgrounds, who are disappointed with their respective parties, will be a big challenge for the grouping.

Separately, another observer Rubiyanto Misman said on Monday that the grouping will strengthen democratization.

"As long as they can stay away from certain political powers, the grouping can be a positive and objective opposition," Rubiyanto told the Post in Purwokerto, Central Java.

Rubiyanto warned the grouping that with their political backgrounds it will be hard to keep from being tempted to use the organization as way to gain political leverage.

Meanwhile in Jakarta, the official launch of Indonesian Axis was held at a reception attended by figures from major parties.

Among PDI Perjuangan members who are not members of Indonesian Axis attending the reception was Arifin Panogoro.

In his introductory speech Eros Djarot once again stressed that Indonesian Axis was born to help grass roots people and as a reaction to uncertain national policies to empower the people.

"We would like to have people with national interests in mind and leave their personal or political party interests behind," Eros said.(dja/rms)