Thu, 12 Feb 2004

PDK wants regime change, autonomy

A. Junaidi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Unity Democratic Nationalist (PDK) Party has vowed to support the much-criticized regional autonomy program and to struggle to improve public administration.

"To achieve these goals we need to change the current administration first," party secretary-general Rivai Pulungan said on his visit to The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

After the regime change, Rivai said the new administration should establish a single supervision and audit body to replace the powerless Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) and the Development Finance Comptroller (BPKP).

Although it remains undecided on its presidential candidate, the party would be prepared to join forces with parties in supporting an aspirant with the intellectual ability to lead the country and solve the acute problems of corruption, collusion and nepotism.

"The current system cannot eliminate corruption and collusion. We are offering improvements to the administrative system and public services," Rivai said.

PDK Party chairman Ryaas Rasyid is a former minister of regional autonomy, while his deputy Andi Mallarangeng is well- known as an expert in administration studies.

Ryaas is a former rector of the state-run Administration Science Institute (IIP). He and Andi are known as the brains behind Law 22/1999 on regional autonomy.

Many criticized the law for decentralizing corruption and abuse of power, expanding environmental destruction and creating "little emperors" who dare to defy the central government's policies, which was impossible hitherto.

The government of President Megawati Soekarnoputri is drafting a review of the autonomy law, which will reinstate the power of the central government at the expense of the regional governments.

Rivai insisted that his party would maintain the regional autonomy program, blaming the problems on the implementation of the law and the absence of operational regulations.

"We reject any effort to reinstate centralization. We can show that the program has benefited the regions, for example by increasing their revenues. But there are still problems in the implementation of the law by local officials," he said.

To reach the election target, Rivai said the party hoped to secure votes from people from various backgrounds, including families of IIP graduates scattered across the country who hold positions in the bureaucracy.

He claimed his party enjoyed strong support in eastern Indonesia, East Java, West Java, Jakarta and some provinces in Sumatra.

"Earlier, our party was often called Partai Daeng dan Karaeng (the South Sulawesi People's Party). But that has faded, as our grassroots support also comes from other regions," he said.

Both Ryaas and Andi, the founders of the party, hail from South Sulawesi.

Meanwhile, PDK executive RA. Andiani Maria Salib acknowledged her party had not set itself a target of securing a certain number of votes in the April general election.

"However, we will be happy to meet the electoral threshold so we do not need to register again for the next general election," Andiani, the party's number one legislative candidate in Jakarta, said.

The election of members of the House of Representatives, regional legislatures and the Regional Councils (DPDs) will be held on April 5. The presidential election will follow on July 5.

In order to contest the 2009 election, a party has to secure at least 3 percent of the vote in the upcoming election.