Sat, 06 Aug 1994

PPP urged to put its house in order ahead of congress

JAKARTA (JP): A senior cabinet official yesterday urged the United Development Party (PPP) to put its house in order as it prepares for an important congress to elect its leaders.

Minister/State Secretary Moerdiono told reporters yesterday that the increasing bickering between the competing factions within the party is a cause of concern to the government.

Moerdiono was commenting on the appearance of new forums within the party that has further fueled the dispute between the different factions making up the organization.

He said the government would welcome the new forums if they could contribute to the development of democracy within the party. But if their establishment threatens to further divide the party, their presence will be regretted.

There has been growing concern that the PPP is veering back toward factional conflicts in anticipation of the congress to elect the party's leaders on Aug. 28.

PPP is the fusion of four former Islamic parties, including Nahdlatul Ulama, Muslimin Indonesia (MI), Sarekat Islam (SI) and Perti.

Moerdiono said that he was concerned at the emergence of the new organizations, no matter what reasons were behind it.

"If they can't take care of themselves, how can they take care of the nation?" he asked.

When questioned concerning the possible outcome of the PPP's leadership election, the minister said that it would be up to the party's members to decide what kind of leader they wanted.

Many people are calling for PPP to find a new leadership figure to replace the incumbent Ismail Hasan Metareum.

When asked whether Ismail's position was strong because he was reported to have support from the government, the minister said: "That's your own opinion. I don't want to make any judgment, especially now that the congress is nearing," he said.

Ismail Hasan, who hails from MI, is reported to have secured the endorsement of the PPP's provincial leaders. His strongest contender for the chairmanship appears to be his own secretary general, Matori Abdul Djalil, who hails from NU.

NU, by far the largest of the factions, is determined to seize the leadership from the incumbent chairman. (par)