Thu, 03 Apr 2003

VP defends paramilitary groups

JAKARTA: Vice President Hamzah Haz said that the paramilitary groups affiliated to the various political parties were necessary, but they needed to change their military-style approach to a moral one.

Hamzah, chairman of the United Development Party (PPP), said on Tuesday that such groups had to avoid violence in achieving their objectives.

He was responding to a statement from Minister of Defense Matori Abdul Djalil that paramilitary groups affiliated to political parties needed to be dissolved.

Hamzah, whose party controls a number of paramilitary groups, including the Ka'bah Youth Movement (GPK), the Ka'bah Youths (AMK), and the Ka'bah Brigade, said that the groups were allowed to wear military-style attire. The Indonesian Military has asked all paramilitary groups not to dress in military outfits for fear of causing abuses.

The Vice President added that the party's paramilitary groups could continue to play a useful role in maintaining security during mass gatherings held outside Islamic boarding schools. -- Antara