PDI-P warned on money politics
YOGYAKARTA (JP): With Megawati Soekarnoputri's reelection to the top post literally waiting for the gavel, calls mount for supporters of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) to monitor money politics involving their representatives at local legislatures.
Political observer Cornelis Lay of Gadjah Mada University suggested on Tuesday that the party's top executives take strict measures in response to allegations of bribery which have cost the party top government posts in some regencies recently.
"This is a serious matter that could endanger both the party and the nation. The party members should raise the issue during the upcoming congress and be able to cope with it," he said.
He was commenting on a string of surprising defeats suffered by the party in many regent elections across Java, despite the fact that they dominated the regional legislatures.
Alleged money politics has cast a foreboding shadow over the party's upcoming congress in Semarang, after research conducted by Gadjah Mada University's School of Social and Political Sciences recently revealed that a number of PDI Perjuangan legislators dropped their support for their candidates when offered money by certain parties.
PDI Perjuangan lost its bid to win the Surabaya mayoral post after most of its representatives at the city's legislative council voted for incumbent Soenarto Sumoprawiro, who was nominated by the National Awakening Party.
Shortly after winning most of the votes in last year's general election, the party raised many eyebrows when its representatives at the Jakarta City Council backed Indonesian Military (TNI) legislator Edi Waluyo for the council chairmanship.
Cornelis labeled those involved in money politics traitors, and said they should be severely reprimanded by the party.
By no means justifying the practice, Cornelis said bribery was common in Indonesian politics and involved legislators representing other parties.
"But the issue becomes crucial for PDI Perjuangan because the party won most of the seats in the many regional legislatures."
"We should also admit that PDI Perjuangan legislators were excluded in the past. They were poor and not well-educated," he explained.
Lay said regional legislators played a significant political role, thanks to the endorsement of laws on regional autonomy and the fiscal balance established between the central government and local governments.
Cornelis also warned the party supporters against preserving a cult of personality by demanding Megawati's reelection.
He regretted the staunch rejection of cultural activist Eros Djarot to the nomination, and Dimyati Hartono, one of the party's executives, for the chief post.
"There is an apparent conspiracy among the party's elites to exclude Eros and Dimyati," Cornelis said.
He added that the party's supporters had been unilaterally denouncing for quite some time any opposition to Megawati, branding them as being an enemy of the party and of Megawati.
"In fact, we know Eros is Megawati's close friend, and Dimyati is the man who has been proven to be one of the party's loyalists during difficult times in the past," Cornelis said.
He reiterated that Megawati should concentrate on her tasks as Vice President until 2004, although he admitted that Megawati's indispensability as the binding factor among party supporters was an undeniable fact.
He suggested that the party modify its organizational structure to allow Megawati to maintain her influence and status without having to involve herself in the party's daily activities.
Eros, meanwhile, pledged to go on with his candidacy and said that his move would not lead to a split within the party.
"I love Mbak Mega and will always support her. There will be no crack in the party, only differences of opinion. Unfortunately, my stance has never been responded to with common sense," Eros said while attending a seminar in Semarang.
While the Central Java capital is bracing for the party congress, Mayor Sukawi Sutarip said on Tuesday all preparations were in place. Community posts have been erected across the city to provide people and congress participants with all the necessary information regarding the March 27 through April 1 event. (44/har)