Mon, 03 Jan 2000

PPP developing into opposition party

From Rakyat Merdeka

The absence of an opposition party during Soeharto's New Order allowed his government to act without effective control from outside. The role of an opposition party is vital in a democracy to check the government or act as a "sparring partner", to borrow Amien Rais' expression.

I worry the same situation will be repeated under President Abdurrahman Wahid because since the formation of the "National Unity" Cabinet, many informed Indonesians have lamented the absence of an organized opposition.

There is the case of the replacement of Hamzah Haz, who is the chairman of United Development Party (PPP), as coordinating minister for people's welfare and poverty eradication (apart from "a grand conspiracy" aimed at destroying the axis force or rumors of corruption involving Hamzah Haz as the party's chief). Hopefully, the development will change PPP's policy for it to become an opposition party. Then it would be followed by a plan to withdraw another PPP minister, Zarkasih Nur, from the Cabinet.

If it happens, PPP will be an effective opposition party because PPP does not have a representative in the Cabinet. At least there are two positive aspects if PPP becomes an opposition party. First, PPP will minimize the chance of the return of a Soeharto-like government. Second, PPP will be supported by a minor party and in the future it will obtain sympathy from the majority of people.

I hope that PPP, as a real opposition party, will have the right to criticize the government.