Mon, 29 Aug 1994

Student leaders want changes in political system

JAKARTA (JP): Leaders of powerful student organizations on Saturday called for major changes in the current political system and to put sovereignty back in the hands of the people.

Five student organizations who are linked in the so-called Cipayung Group held a seminar on Saturday to review the political situation in connection with Indonesia's 49th independence anniversary. The meeting was held at the office of the State Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports in Jakarta.

Speakers at the seminar agreed that the time has now come to change the political system, including allowing the formation of new political parties.

Political parties should also be given complete independence in running their own affairs, the speakers said.

"Put sovereignty back in the hands of the people," said Egie Sudjana of the Association of Moslem Students (HMI). "Let people choose and determine their national leadership and give them the opportunity to convey their aspirations."

The present system has virtually given sovereignty to the government, a situation that borders on tyranny, he said.

Yusril Ihsa of the Association of Indonesian Moslem Students (PMII) said political parties should be run independently and given a chance to play their role to speak on behalf of the people.

"It's a shameful irony that the government has been intervening in internal affairs of political parties," he said.

He said he found it deplorable that leaders of the United Development Party (PPP) are having to obtain the blessings of the government and the military in order to run for the party's chairmanship election at its congress this week.


Michael of the Association of Indonesian Catholic Students (PMKRI) said the legislative body, the Supreme Court and political parties should be reinvigorated because they are the institutions that play a crucial role in any democracy.

"If we want to make changes, the legislative body should be given independence to truly reflect the people's aspirations, the supremacy of the law should be upheld, and political parties should be allowed to touch base with the masses," he said.

Under the present system, the legislative and judicature branches' position have been virtually subordinated to that of the executive branch, he said.

Muchiar Yara of the Movement of Indonesian Nationalist Students (GMNI) said Indonesia has been wavering between democracy and authoritarianism.

"We are using a double standard," he said, "And we, the students, have also indirectly contributed to this mistake, for it has been made through a long process."

He said the young generation, especially students, should not simply speak out on issues of democracy but also take concerted actions to seek changes in the political system.

Egie called on all students' associations to form an alliance, or set up a new party, to change the political system.

"Let's put our differences aside and unite in an alliance to fight for democracy," he said, adding that the alliance should not be seen as an opposition against the government. (rms)