Mon, 23 Oct 2000

Youth organizations committed to end rivalry

JAKARTA (JP): In observance of Youths' Oath Day, rival youth organizations have pledged to end rivalry and enmity among them for the sake of national reconciliation.

Speaking in a dialog organized by the National Youths Committee (KNPI), youth leaders supporting President Abdurrahman Wahid's government called on their counterparts backing the old regime not to feel guilty because of their role in the past.

"We have never treated youth organizations, such as Pemuda Pancasila (PP), Pemuda Panca Marga (PPM) and FKPPI, as rivals. It's unfair to take revenge on the organizations because all of us had our own part in contributing to the former repressive regime," Syaifullah Yusuf, chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama- affiliated Ansor Youth Organization, said in the meeting.

Victus Morin, secretary general of the Nationalist Student Movement (GMNI), agreed. He said the youth organizations should avoid a cycle of revenge, but instead develop mutual trust in the face of their common enemies both at home and overseas.

"The youths are facing collective demands that must be met. All sides must accept that they have committed mistakes in the past. We are now fighting social epidemics such as anarchistic actions, corruption and unemployment," he said.

Djoko Purnomo, chairman of the Panca Marga Youth Organization (PPM), conceded that his group and its fellow organizations linked to the disgraced New Order regime are facing social ostracism because of their role in the past.

"It is better for us to remain silent now while suffering social sanctions," he said.

He said PPM, PP and FKPPI probably deserved the punishment as they had taken political and financial advantage of their support for the military-backed former repressive regime.

"Social ostracism also occurred because of the presence of former president Soeharto's sons in the youth organizations," he said.

Soeharto's son Bambang Trihatmodjo chaired FKPPI from 1993 to 1997 while Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana and Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra are still members of the servicemen's children's organization. Bambang is also a member of the Pancasila Youth Organization and Tommy was a former executive of PP.

Djoko however said PPM was ready to reposition itself in the reform era in an endeavor to reunify all youth organizations to fight against common enemies, including threats of disintegration and developed countries' hegemony over Indonesia.

"We fully appreciate this historical meeting to end rivalry and to cope with national problems," he said.

Fachrudin, chairman of the Indonesian Muslim Students (HMI), said that amid the reform era, the difference of opinion among youth organizations should be respected but it should not jeopardize the national interests.

"The political climate has been chaotic because all sides have struggled for their own interests and this has caused the threats of disintegration," he said.

He said youth organizations should adopt a civilized political culture to end rivalry among themselves.

"In the reform era, all groups are allowed to stage massive demonstrations but they should be conducted in a civilized way and not in the context of political revenge," he said.

Doody Mahmurod, chairman of the Banteng Muda Indonesia organization, reminded the participants that the unitary state, the Pancasila state ideology and the 1945 Constitution were the three fundamentals which must be maintained.

"We have the right to have different opinions, outside of these triple foundations," he said.

Amin, chairman of the Muhammadiyah Youth Organization, said the existing cooperation between his organization and Ansor should be taken as a model in upholding democracy.

"The two youth organizations have forged cooperation in many fields to end the long rivalry between Nadhlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah. Both have the same objective of promoting religious values but in different ways," he said.

The youth organizations' leaders agreed to jointly organize a music concert in celebrating Youths' Oath Day on Oct. 28 and to hold a dialog with national figures --Gus Dur, Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri, People's Consultative Assembly Chairman Amien Rais and House Speaker Akbar Tandjung.

They were also of the same opinion that the youth should take an initiative in promoting national reconciliation, especially among the political elite.

Erwin, FKPPI's secretary general, said youth organizations should play their role as a pressure group in face of the conflicts within the political elite.

"Ansor should be critical of the President, GMNI and Banten Muda should remain critical of the Vice President and Muhammadiyah Youth Organization should press Amien Rais to soften his stance against the President," he said.

Syaifullah insisted on the importance of political certainty, saying Ansor has no objection to fierce criticism being fired at the President but it should not be aimed at toppling the legitimate government.

"The political situation will remain chaotic if we have to replace our President annually," he said. (rms)