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Dita Sari to stand as Star Reform Party candidate in 2009

Java Post - August 3, 2008

Jakarta – The chairperson of the National Liberation Party of Unity's (Papernas) advisory board, Dita Indah Sari, has decided to run as a legislative candidate under the Islamic based Star Reform Party (PBR). The labour activist has been ranked 1 in the East Java V electoral district that covers Klaten, Boyolali, Sukoharjo and Solo (Surakarta) city.

The East Java V electoral district is expected to be a 'hot zone' in the 2009 general elections because a number of other important party figures have also confirmed that they will take part in the contest for the district. They include the daughter of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri Puan Maharani (Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle), People's Consultative Assembly speaker Hidayat Nurwahid (Justice and Prosperity Party), senior badminton athlete Icuk Sugiarto (United Development Party) and GKR Wandansari or Gusti Mung (Democrat Party).

"Certainly Dita is not Central Javanese. But her husband is Central Javanese," said the deputy general secretary of PBR's Central Board of Directors, Yusuf Lakaseng yesterday, following the launch of the PBR's electoral number of 29 for the 2009 elections at the PBR's central office in Tebet, South Jakarta.

According to Lakaseng, Sari's recruitment as a PBR legislative candidate was because there was similar segmentation (sic) between the PBR's struggle and that of Dita's, who is also the former general chairperson of the People's Democratic Party Central Leadership Committee (KPP-PRD). "We have indeed opened ourselves up to activist circles," he said.

Moreover added Lakaseng, the party is seriously prioritising youth figures with as many as 60 percent of all PBR's legislative candidates being under the age of 40. "This is to provide impetus for acceleration in political regeneration," he asserted. Sari for example, was born in the East Java city of Medan on December 30, 1972 said Lakaseng, so she is still only 36-years-old.

Lakaseng added that in the 2004 elections, the PBR only garnered 2.7 percent of the vote. For the 2009 elections, he continued, the PBR has set a minimum target of 7 percent. "The thing is, we have now built up our party structures every province throughout Indonesia," said Lakaseng, who is a legislative candidate for the Central Sulawesi electoral district.

When asked for confirmation, Sari said that she had indeed become a PBR legislative candidate for Central Java. Is she afraid of competing against a line-up of popular figures from other parties? "For me, this is precisely the big challenge", she answered laughing.

Sari claimed that she does not have a problem with the PBR being an Islamic based party. This is because much of the PBR's program is in accordance with her [views]. For example, economic independence that is not dependent upon foreigners, the option of abolishing the foreign debt and economic development in rural areas as a priority. "I see the PBR as a party that is trying to introduce Islamic principles with a more open understanding," she said.

Moreover, added Sari, in the coming elections the PBR will apply a majority vote system to determine which legislative candidates are elected. "Although it's not perfect and there is perhaps no party that is perfect, all of this can provide us with a sense of comfort", said the winner of the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2001 (sic).

What about Papernas then? "Papernas still exists, it hasn't disappeared and it hasn't dissolved into the PBR", she asserted.

The chairperson of the PBR's Central Board of Directors, Bursah Zarnubi said that his party is endeavouring as much as possible to embrace youth. Moreover, 30 of the PBR's legislative candidates are still under the age of 30. The party's quota for legislative candidates above the age of 50 is only 15-20 percent. "New voters must be politically literate. Don't let the party become an oligarchy", he said.

With regard to the agenda for a presidential candidate convention that the PBR plans to hold, Zarnubi explained that Central Board of Director functionaries, including himself, will not be allowed to take part in the convention. "So it is impartial and fair so people don't doubt the PBR's commitment. If there are PBR people who are put forward, there will certainly be an internal sentiment," he explained.

Present at the event to launch the PBR's electoral number of 29 in Jakarta on August 2 were party Deputy General Chairperson Raden Muhammad Syafi'i and the PBR's General Secretary Rusman Ali. The event was also enlivened by artists Dewi Yul and Franky Sahilatua. Yul is reportedly being 'enticed' by the PBR to become one of its legislative candidates. Senior Golkar Party politician and former House of Representatives speaker Akbar Tandjung also came to the event. (pri)

[Translated by James Balowski.]