Sat, 12 Feb 2000

Welcome opposition!

A group of people, consisting mostly of young men and women, declared themselves to be the "opposition" when they gathered recently at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle. What is laudable is the fact that, at least as far as I know, they did not demand or seek to bring about the fall of the government. Unlike in countries with a long tradition of democracy, the task of the opposition should be directed more toward correcting the course of the government's policies, especially when it concerns contentious issues which are food for the opposition.

This truly democratically elected government under Abdurrahman Wahid as president and Megawati Soekarnoputri as vice president, in its three months of existence, has been criticized for its slow performance and lack of coordination among the Cabinet ministers. Attorney General Marzuki Darusman has received the brunt of all criticism in that he has promised much but so far not delivered anything in combating the big issue of corruption, collusion and nepotism, including the Soeharto and Texmaco cases.

To my surprise, there is presently hardly any media (radio and television included) commentator, political and economic analyst, who is not critical of the administration. Could it be that opposition sources have been bribed over by sympathizers of the former Soeharto regime, including some Golkar supporters, and economic and political mafias?

President Abdurrahman's trips abroad, originally designed to allay investors' fears, have become headaches for observers, who fear civil strife and even a coup d'etat. The home scene has become more confusing with news about a rift between the military leaders and the President. Has the rupiah also slid with the rumors is everybody's question.

The creation of an opposition group is something to be welcome if its aims are to remain within the democratic confines and do not seek the fall per se of the administration. Remember, we have just begun to lay the foundation of democratic life and respect of human rights. The leaders have won international confidence to revitalize the battered economy and restructure its internal and foreign debts. I call on the opposition forces, if they feel defeated, to realign their forces and have another try in the next general election. Haven't we committed ourselves to the ideals and principles of democracy, not of pseudo-democracy?