Tue, 23 Aug 1994

PPP veteran asks members to unite for party's future

JAKARTA (JP): A veteran leader of the United Development Party (PPP) made a passionate appeal to members, asking them to shed their factional identities at an important congress later this month so they could forge unity for the sake of the party's future.

Idham Chalid, one of the party's founding fathers, said factionalism is part of the PPP's history but this should not obstruct the party's progress.

"Individuals should not use their faction to promote their personal interests," he told reporters, after a meeting with PPP executive board members at the house of chairman Ismail Hasan Metareum on Sunday.

"We're committed to unite within the party," Idham said, referring to the four Islamic parties which merged into the PPP. "Show some respect to the party's founding fathers ... You must all work towards the unity and cohesion of the party."

Idham, the only survivor of the five men who signed the agreement for the establishment of PPP on Jan. 5, 1973, represents the Nahdlatul Ulama, which is by far the largest of the four groups within the PPP.

The former political parties, which have retained their organizational structure and are listed as mass organizations, are popularly referred to as "factions" among those in the PPP.

With the PPP congress drawing nigh, the factions have been locked in a stiff battle for the chairmanship, which will be decided at the gathering in Jakarta that will run from Aug. 28 to Sept. 2.

Politicians affiliated with NU have made it clear that they intended to wrest the post from the incumbent Ismail Hasan, who has announced his intention of running in the race.

Idham, however, scorned NU politicians who were using the organization to help further their ambitions in the upcoming election. "They must not show their NU colors."

Muslimin Indonesia

Ismail Hasan hails from Muslimin Indonesia (MI), the faction that has always dominated the PPP thanks largely to the support of the government. The other two factions are Sarekat Islam and Perti.

Idham was president of the PPP in the 1970s, a largely ceremonial post that has since been scrapped, as control rests chiefly in the hands of the chairman. The chairmanship of the PPP has always gone to the MI.

NU's chief candidate for the chairmanship is the current PPP secretary general Matori Abdul Djalil. Beginning last week, Matori began to distance himself from Ismail Hasan by lashing out at the incumbent chief, stressing that the party's poor showing in the last general election was attributed to his leadership.

Matori was conspicuously absent during the meeting between the executive board members and Idham.

Ismail Hasan paid a visit to Idham's house on Sunday to extend an invitation to him to attend the congress.

However, Idham said that because of his failing health, he would not be able to attend the gathering.

He expressed his hope that the party could maintain the democratic atmosphere in making the crucial decisions during the upcoming congress. (emb)