Fri, 12 Aug 1994

Rebel PDI activists told to set up own political party

JAKARTA (JP): A leading member of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) yesterday said that party members who are discontent with the leadership of Megawati Soekarnoputri should form their own party instead of trying to undermine the party.

Aberson Marle Sihaloho, a PDI legislator and a staunch supporter of Megawati, said he was concerned with the brewing internal conflict within the party as many rebel members in the regions have formed rival executive boards.

Megawati has been touring the various provincial capitals in the past month to supervise the election of regional boards, some of which ended in controversy when rebel members decided to form their own boards.

"I recommend that those unsatisfied with the election mechanism form a new party and see if it can accommodate their wishes," he said. "Although I would remain loyal to PDI, I would fully support the creation of a new political party."

The Indonesian law only recognizes three political organizations which are allowed to contest the five-yearly general elections. PDI, a fusion of Christian and nationalist forces, is the smallest party compared to the other two: Golkar and the United Development Party (PPP).

Megawati's presence in the PDI regional elections has been attacked by some rebel party members as an attempt to meddle into the affairs of the regional boards.

Angered by Megawati's "excessive" intervention in the election of their leaders, PDI members in Aceh, North Sumatra and South Sulawesi have formed rival local board of executives.

"I believe that those who set up rival executive boards do not have political commitment to PDI as they pledge," said Aberson, one of PDI's most outspoken legislators.

Aberson said what in the surface seemed to be bitter conflicts was in fact the dynamic within PDI which is practicing democracy. "Decision making is left to members instead of being dominated by the leaders," he said.

Illegal act

Megawati, who was elected by popular vote last year, has personally deplored the formation of rival executive boards in the three provinces, saying that the development was worrying and could tarnish PDI's image.

She said that establishing a rival board was an illegal act by party members who look after their personal ambition instead of developing the party.

The latest dissensions within PDI have come to the attention of the ministry of home affairs, which controls the development of political organizations.

The ministry has apparently written to Megawati regarding the latest development in her party, but some party leaders construed this as another government attempt to meddle in the PDI's affairs.

Director general socio-political affairs of the ministry Sutoyo NK denied the suggestion that the government had reprimanded the PDI's central executive board.

Sutoyo said he had simply written to the PDI leadership urging them to resolve the problem after a number of PDI members in the provinces pressed him to do so.

He argued that the formation of rival executive board was a serious matter that the government and PDI should address soon. (pan)