Mon, 14 Aug 2000

PDI Perjuangan, Golkar becoming political allies

JAKARTA (JP): In politics anything is possible and enemies can quickly become friends. That has been particularly evident in recent days between the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) and the Golkar Party who seem to be going through something of a honeymoon period.

Just a few years ago the two seemed to be intractably opposed. Now the hatchet is buried and while they are still political competitors, the two largest factions in the People's Consultative Assembly seem to support one another on many fundamental issues.

After years of indifference towards the other, the Golkar Party faction chairman in the Assembly, Syamsul Mu'arif, conceded that the two parties have repeatedly taken a common political stance.

"Yes, it is true that we have been taking the same steps as PDI Perjuangan lately. We have finally realized that on some issues we share the same views and, besides, it is in the interests of the country," Syamsul told The Jakarta Post here on Sunday.

He contended that based upon wider interest and the good of the nation, there should be no shame in siding with a long- standing political rival.

"Besides, there is no permanent political hatred," Syamsul claimed.

Golkar enjoyed overwhelming political hegemony for practically all of the 32-year rule of former President Soeharto.

In the mid-1990s during the ascendance of Megawati Soekarnoputri, the government launched several attempts to sabotage her leadership including backing a special congress which "officially" toppled her and split the party in two.

While many of the old faces remain, the current Golkar leadership has distanced itself from the past.

Fluid political developments in the past few weeks have shown a growing affinity between the two former political rivals.

The most recent demonstration of this was a "coalition" last week between the two parties and the National Awakening Party following President Abdurrahman Wahid's progress report.

The two largest political parties agreed to support Abdurrahman's continuance in office.

A solid alliance between the PDI Perjuangan and the Golkar Party would represent an unbreakable power block in the 700-seat Assembly as they respectively hold 184 and 182 seats.

"Maybe we should thank Abdurrahman for firing ministers from our parties," Syamsul remarked of the dismissal of former state minister of investment and state enterprises development Laksamana Sukardi, and former minister of trade and industry Yusuf Kalla who respectively from PDI Perjuangan and Golkar.

"Because of his decision it now makes it possible for us to walk hand in hand," he added.

PDI Perjuangan Assembly members seemed more noncommittal when confronted with acknowledging intimacy with their former foes.

Senior party member Jacob Tobing said the growing relationship between the two parties was limited only to certain issues where they share a common view.

"The closeness between the two parties depends on certain issues because in some we share the same opinion but maybe in some others we have different views, nothing more," Jacob said.

He further added that it would be a very good move if Golkar publicly admits that it will comply with PDI Perjuangan in most political decisions.

Another PDI Perjuangan legislator Dimyati Hartono maintained that the "coalition" was not a permanent feature and was spurred merely by recent political developments.

"However, I cannot say what the intentions are behind Golkar's move because the initiative came from them. But there is a similar point of view and we can adopt a common stance," Dimyati asserted.(dja)