Sun, 06 Aug 2000

PDI-P wants no changes to Art. 29 on religion

JAKARTA (JP): The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) hinted on Saturday that it would be ready to "trade" on the question of the inclusion of Islamic law in the constitutional amendments with its proposal for the formalization of Pancasila as a state principle.

The PDI Perjuangan faction at the People's Consultative Assembly invited reporters to the Assembly to underline its stance before the start of the Assembly's Annual Session on Monday.

The faction's deputy secretary Heri Akhmadi said, on the issue of constitutional amendments, especially Art. 29 on religion, the party maintains its position that it not be changed.

Heri claimed that the party's position was supported by the Indonesian Military (TNI)/Police faction, the Love Democratic Nation Party (PDKB) faction and the Indonesia Unity and Nationalism faction (FKKI).

"Changing the Article would open the possibility for the unitary state to become a religious state," he remarked.

The United Development Party (PPP) faction has proposed an addition which would obligate Muslims to adhere to Islamic law.

In reaction, the National Awakening Party (PKB), Golkar Party and the Reform factions have taken it further by proposing instead an obligation that religious followers conduct the teachings of their respective religions.

"Then you would have to control whether Christians go to church, and Muslims say their prayers," Heri contended.

Nevertheless, he conceded that the party would be ready to "trade off" with the PPP and other factions on the matter.

He said the party would drop its suggestion on the formalization of Pancasila as a new separate chapter in the Constitution as a basic principle of the state if PPP drops its proposal on the inclusion of Islamic law.


Saturday saw last minute preparations and lobbying as delegates began registering at their assigned hotels.

Golkar Party deputy chairman Agung Laksono expressed his belief on Saturday that the upcoming Assembly could pass a recommendation to hold a special session if it found irregularities in President Abdurrahman Wahid's (Gus Dur) progress report.

During a discussion here titled Gus Dur's Last Chance: Change His Attitude or Resign, Agung said a special session would be held if the President were found to have violated the 1945 Constitution, the State Policy Guidelines (GBHN) or has committed a serious crime.

"Although we have not found any such violations committed by Gus Dur, other factions will attend the Annual Session convinced that by receiving money from the Brunei Sultan and not reporting it, Gus Dur has violated his presidential oath".

However, he brushed aside suggestions that the sessions would be ill-intended for the mere sake of scrutinizing the President's mistakes.

"If the government's report passes with flying colors, then the debates about the pros and cons of a special session will not occur," he told journalists after the discussion.

Agung said he has been informed that the President's progress report would consist only of the latter's general view of pluralism, tolerance and upholding the law, and would not touch details of the country's development as stipulated in GBHN.

"It means that Gus Dur is trying to escape from his responsibility. If he can survive this year's session ... We will give him time to improve his performance".

"We will keep evaluating him annually," he remarked.

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, six new Assembly members were inducted by Assembly speaker Amien Rais and House speaker Akbar Tandjung.

The new member are: Dwi Ria Latifa, Siti Supami and Utoyo (from PDI Perjuangan), Sofyan Usman and Rusli Ibrahim (from PPP) and Enggartiasto Lukito (from Golkar).

Lawyer Dwi Ria replaced Megawati Soekarnoputri who resigned after being elected as the country's vice president.

"It's an honor to replace Mbak Mega. I was informed officially yesterday," Dwi Ria told reporters.

Rusli replaced PPP's legislator Nashiruddin Daud who was murdered in Medan, North Sumatra in February.

Meanwhile, a majority of the Assembly's 700 members were seen registering at the Hilton Hotel and the Mulia Hotel on Saturday -- their temporary residences for the next 12 days.

Hilton Hotel is reserved for PDI Perjuangan, TNI/Police, PKB, the Crescent and Star Party, Daulatul Ummah Party and FKKI faction members while the Mulia Hotel is for members from Golkar, PPP, Reform Faction, PDKB and representatives from societal groups.

Several air-conditioned buses were parked at the hotels ready to transport members to the Assembly compound located a few minutes away.

And dozens of police officers were also seen standing ready at the hotels. (jun/bby)