Mon, 03 Oct 1994

Pressure mounts to sue senior columnist Manai

JAKARTA (JP): Pressure mounted during the weekend to sue senior columnist Manai Sophiaan for suggesting that student leaders in the 1960s received funding from the American Central Intelligence Agency to stage street protests against president Sukarno.

Abdul Gafur, a senior Golkar politician who began his political career as a student leader in the mid-1960s, was the latest to join the call to sue Manai for the "slanderous" remarks made in his book about the late president.

Gafur, former minister of youth and sports and presently deputy chairman of Golkar executive board, told reporters on Saturday that Manai has twisted the facts about the CIA link.

"He should be sued so that he can try to prove his allegations in court," he said.

The massive student demonstrations in 1966 were prompted by Sukarno's reluctance to disband the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) after it failed in its bid for power in September 1965.

The students rallied behind Army general Soeharto, who subsequently replaced Sukarno in March 1967.

Gafur also challenged Manai to an open dialog about the incident surrounding the coup attempt and the eventual downfall of Sukarno. "If he has guts, then let us have a dialog," he said.

The renewed controversy about the CIA role was sparked by Manai's latest book Kehormatan Bagi Yang Berhak (Honor for the One who Deserves It) in which he argued that Sukarno was not involved in the Sept. 30, 1965 coup attempt as many have suggested.

Later in an interview with a local magazine, Manai said the students were financed by the CIA and that the yellow jackets worn by demonstrators from the University of Indonesia came from Hawaii.

Gafur, an alumnus of the prestigious university, denied this.

He said that food supplies for the demonstrators did not come from CIA but from the "Indonesian people who were still committed to the Pancasila ideology and the 1945 Constitution."


When asked about Sukarno's involvement in the coup, Gafur said the late president was clean and that he was not a communist. "But it is clear that he never wanted to liquidate PKI and always defended it," he added.

Gafur who once met with Sukarno with 10 other colleagues during the demonstration said the president defended PKI and insisted on giving it a chance.

He said that whether or not Sukarno was involved in the coup will always remain a controversy because he was never brought to court. Sukarno died in 1970.

Two organizations grouping these former student leaders took offense at Manai's suggestion and are now planning to sue the writer for slander.

Manai appears to be prepared to meet his critics in court. On Friday he appointed three lawyers to represent him should these student organizations go ahead with the planned lawsuit.

Manai was ambassador to Moscow between 1964 and 1967 when Sukarno was president. While maintaining that he was not personally close with the former president, he said he was "ideologically" close. (par)