Sat, 06 Dec 2003

New Order forces emerge as reform in disarray: Analyst

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The return of New Order forces, manifested in the nomination of former president Soeharto's daughter Siti "Tutut" Hardiyanti Rukmana as a presidential candidate, should be a sign for pro- reform political parties to join hands, an analyst says.

Ikrar Nusa Bhakti of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) said on Friday that the resurrection of New Order forces was due to the apparent failure of existing political parties to pursue a reform agenda.

"The return of New Order forces is caused by the inconsistencies of the present government and legislators in their pursuit of total reform," he said here on Friday.

The Concern for the Nation Functional Party (PKPB), led by former Army chief Gen. (ret) Raden Hartono, had asked Tutut to run for presidency in the country's first-ever direct presidential election next year.

Tutut, once groomed to take over the national leadership, did not immediately accept the invitation but hinted that she would run for the presidency if deemed qualified.

Ikrar said PKPB could grow, returning New Order forces to the country's political stage, if politicians did not mend their corrupt ways.

"Because the people are irritated by existing politicians who amass state wealth," he added.

According to Ikrar, politicians today were more corrupt than those previously.

Panda Nababan of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), however, disagreed that the present government was responsible for the revival of New Order forces.

He called for the national press not to produce reports that influenced people to want the New Order back.

He said the government of President Megawati Soekarnoputri had done its best. According to him, the present government had been able to revive the economy.

"Please remember that there was no labor demonstration demanding bonuses ahead of the Idul Fitri holiday. I think that is a sign of progress," he said.

Panda said if the government failed on some fronts, this was because it had inherited many burdens from the New Order government.

Separately, the General Elections Commission (KPU) claimed that it was not concerned about the many figures with links to the New Order era, returning to the national political stage.

"As long as they follow the regulations, we do not care about their backgrounds," KPU deputy chairman Ramlan Surbakti was quoted by Antara as saying.

He was commenting on the many veteran politicians nominating themselves as members of the Regional Representatives Council (DPD).

They are, among other figures, Kemala Motik Abdul Gafur (who also joined Golkar's presidential candidacy), Bambang Warih Koesoema (former Golkar legislator), Sarwono Kusumaatmadja (former Golkar leader), A.A. Baramuli (former Golkar leader) and Beddu Amang (former head of the State Logistics Agency).

Ramlan said the phenomenon indicated the failure of new political parties to recruit qualified members.