Thu, 11 Mar 1999

PDI Perjuangan debates poll tactics

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) executives regrouped in Bogor, West Java on Wednesday to discuss strategies to win the upcoming general election.

Speaking at the opening of the three-day meeting, the first since the party qualified for the June 7 polls, PDI for Struggle chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri asked party executives at all levels to educate voters across the country with the technical aspect of elections.

"We have to activate communication posts already set up nationwide to accommodate gatherings and encourage awareness of a fair and just general election," Megawati said.

Thousands of communication posts, better known as Posko Gotong Royong (cooperative command posts), have been built in villages across Java and Bali. In East Java alone, dubbed one of the party's strongholds, there are about 10,000 black-and-red posts.

Megawati said consolidation in small groups would be more effective than holding mass rallies.

"It is no use if thousands of people attend our rallies and it transpires that most of them do not hold identity cards."

ID cards are mandatory for Indonesian citizens to vote.

Megawati also warned party executives to refrain from selfishness and nepotism when selecting legislative candidates.

"We have to put our personal interests aside and pick only the best candidates. Selfishness and nepotism deter democracy."

Chairman of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) Budi Hardjono said he was optimistic his party would maintain its 11 seats in the House of Representatives.

Budi said PDI has 27 branches throughout the country with a total of 306 chapters at regency level.

"We will support a fair, open and peaceful general election. We will try to avoid conflict against other parties," he said referring to a recent attack committed by PDI for Struggle members against him in Bandarlampung, Lampung.

In Jakarta, the Chinese Indonesian Reform Party, which did not qualify for the elections, announced it would deploy volunteers to monitor the polls.

"We realize that monitoring activities are good for the sake of people's political education," party leader Lieus Sungkharisma said on Wednesday.

In Jambi, several members and party executives of the United Development Party (PPP) decided to leave and join the United Party (PP) led by PPP former chairman Jaelani Naro, Antara reported.

Chairman of Jambi's PPP chapter Abdul Kadir confirmed the exodus, saying that members -- including chief of PPP board of intellectuals Yusuf Husein -- were disappointed with Yusuf's failure to win the top job in the chapter.

In Semarang, Central Java, the chapter of National Mandate Party (PAN) demanded the three seasoned political parties, Golkar, PPP and PDI, return all government facilities for the sake of fair elections.

"All of the parties must undertake the contest from the same position. It is better for the government to take the facilities back and give them to the public," said Hadi Pranoto, leader of Central Java's PAN chapter. (edt)