Thu, 20 Nov 2003

PDI-P hopes fresh blood will boost its election showing

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

To win over the voters in the upcoming 2004 direct election, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) has introduced new faces to its lineup of legislative candidates.

During a two-day national meeting on Wednesday to select its candidates, party branches put forward many well-known public figures to represent the party in the House of Representative.

Noted lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, economic analysts Sri Mulyani and Mari Pangestu, and political analyst Rizal Mallarangeng were among the names being talked about.

The names of a number of noted show business personalities, such as Marrisa Haque, Desy Ratnasari, Franky Sahilatua and Deddy Sutomo, were also mentioned.

"We will finalize the list on Friday during a meeting led by chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri. We hope that these people will be willing to accept the offer," the party's secretary-general, Soetjipto, said.

The meeting will scrap or add a number of names from the existing list of 669 proposed by the party's branches across the country.

Todung, however, said that no one from the PDI Perjuangan had ever contacted him regarding his standing for the legislature.

"I appreciate the wishes of the PDI Perjuangan grass roots, but I have yet to consider what kind of political path I will take in the future," he told The Jakarta Post.

The noted lawyer said that he had been working for many years with civil society organizations, but had yet to decide whether he would join a political party.

The party's image has slumped recently, something that has been blamed on the performance of President Megawati and her administration, as well as other factors.

Ahead of the first ever direct election in 2004, the party has tried to include noted public figures as vote getters.

The party is also keeping on many of its current crop of legislators, including Roy B.B.Janis, Noviantika Nasution, Pramono Anung Wibowo, Mangaara Siahaan and Soetjipto.

Megawati's brother Guruh Soekanoputra and her husband Taufik Kiemas, despite their poor attendance record in the House, have also been nominated again as legislative candidates.

Another relative of Megawati that will be on the list of legislative candidates is her brother-in-law, Santayana Kiemas.

At the opening of the party's national meeting on Tuesday Megawati gave a sharp warning to members, saying she would not tolerate the renomination of candidates by branches other than their original branch. It was not clear whether she will scrap Taufik's name from the list.

Taufik is a legislator representing the South Sumatra branch, but he is being renominated for the next five-year term by West Java.