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Polls funds too paltry: Jakarta parties

Straits Times - April 1, 1997

Jakarta – Indonesia's minority parties said yesterday that election funding given by the government was too small to cover campaign costs for the country's May polls.

Mr Ismail Hasan Metareum, head of the Muslim-oriented United Development Party (PPP), was quoted by the official Antara news agency as saying the government election funding of 500 million rupiah (S$291,200) was not enough.

The funds make up most of the minority parties' income.

"According to our estimates, what is needed is two or three billion rupiah or at the least one billion rupiah, and if the government has to be very economical, 750 million. This assistance of 500 million rupiah is, of course, not enough," he said.

He said his party must look for alternative sources of funding for the May 29 election, without giving details.

Mr Soerjadi, leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), said the 500 million rupiah would not cover the cost of the campaign, which begins officially on April 27 and ends on May 23. He said the money had to be split among the PDI's 302 branches.

Information Minister Harmoko, head of the ruling Golkar party, declined to comment on the funding issue.

The minority parties have long complained that Golkar, whose leaders are drawn from senior government figures and business executives, has no problem funding its extensive activities.

Public rallies have been banned for the election and the government wants to restrict campaigning to TV debates.

Interior Minister Yogie Memet yesterday recognised the funding was less than the parties needed, but said it was twice that given to them at the last election in 1992.

"However, this is the amount that can be given by the government, because every expenditure must be in line with the financial abilities of the state," he said, suggesting that the parties look for funding from elsewhere.

Even before the start of the official campaign period, Golkar has put up its bright yellow flags and hosted pop music concerts in Central Java. PPP supporters have countered this with unsanctioned motorcycle rallies every Sunday. – Reuter.