Sun, 26 Mar 2000

PDI congress 'must be democratic'

SEMARANG (JP): Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) deputy chairman Dimyati Hartono said the party's first congress must be serious and democratic.

"I hope there aren't any jokes in the congress. Democracy must be maintained and implemented during the congress, including in the decision-making process," he told reporters ahead of the congress, scheduled to open here on Sunday.

He said he was serious in challenging for the party's chairmanship, not merely seeking an improved bargaining position.

"I am in the race for the party's chairmanship because I want the party to be bigger and modern. I joined the race because the party has been too slow to respond to the dynamism of the strategic changes outside the party. The party has also been late in resolving its myriad internal problems, including the quality of its cadres.

"We cannot let this continue to happen. Such a situation must be dealt with properly," he said, adding that he had received pressure over his chairmanship candidacy.

Internal rifts in the party over the issue of having more than one candidate for the post of chairperson deepened following Eros Djarot's declaration that he was ready to replace incumbent chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri, who is the country's Vice President. Eros was pushed out of the chairmanship race and accused of "rocking the boat".

Meanwhile, congress fever has hit the Central Java capital of Semarang.

PDI Perjuangan banners are seen across the city and domestic and foreign journalists have flocked to the city.


At least one million party supporters are expected to flood Semarang during the congress, scheduled to close on April 1.

Around 6,000 security guards, consisting of police officers and the party's security personnel, will be deployed to safeguard the congress.

"Security personnel from other political parties, such as Golkar, the United Development Party (PPP) and the National Awakening Party (PKB), are also ready to help maintain security and order," Semarang Police chief Col. Mathius Salempang said.

As many as 15 security posts have been set up in areas where people are expected to gather during the congress.

To anticipate the crush of PDI Perjuangan supporters, the congress' organizing committee has been busy making preparations, including the establishment of 24 communal kitchens.

Supito, who is in charge of the kitchens, told The Jakarta Post that at least 1.2 tons of rice was available for the event.

The kitchens are located at bus terminals, railway stations, Patra Jasa Hotel and along roads linking Semarang with other towns.

"Each kitchen will cook 50 kilograms of rice every day, and Rp 500,000 has been allocated for daily meals. We want to sell the meals at Rp 1,000 per pack, including a glass of distilled water or tea," Supito said.

"Supporters who do not have any money with them can get meals for free at designated food stalls, which will make some 1,000 packages of nasi bungkus available every day." (har/sur)