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Try, Edi join breakaway Golkar party

Jakarta Post - December 3, 1998

Jakarta – Former-vice president Try Sutrisno and former defense minister Edi Sudradjat, both retired Army generals, signed their names to a declaration on Tuesday to form a new political party along with nearly 100 other discontented members of Golkar.

The as-yet unnamed political party immediately announced its intention to contest the general election scheduled for June next year.

Hayono Isman, the former youth affairs and sports minister, told reporters that the new party was intended to accommodate the aspirations of Golkar members who are not happy with the policies being pursued by the current leadership.

The name of the new party and the line up of its leadership will be announced at the party's inauguration, which is planned for Dec. 15.

The presence of Try and Edi, both widely respected figures in the Armed Forces and Golkar, has lent credence to the new party. Other signatories include Hayono himself, former environment minister Sarwono Kusumaatmadja and former Golkar legislators Bambang Warih Koesoema, Indra Bambang Utoyo, Mubha Kahar Muang and Tatto S. Pradjamanggala.

The petition to form the new party came at the end of a two-day seminar to discuss Golkar's chances in a multiparty political system. Golkar has dominated the political scene for the last 32 years, winning every election in the three-party system handcrafted by former president Soeharto.

"We have not reached an agreement on what to call the party, but several names have been proposed by our colleagues and participants at the seminar," Hayono said. Suggested names include Partai Merah Putih (the Red and White Party), Partai Keadilan dan Persatuan (the Justice and Unity Party) and Partai Persatuan Bangsa (the National Unity Party).

While admitting differences in vision, Hayono said the new party would welcome current Golkar chairman Akbar Tandjung, if he wished to join. "After all, we still have a lot of similarities in our political aspirations," he said. Edi lost the race for the Golkar chairmanship to Akbar at the party's extraordinary congress in July.

Hayono said he had no illusions about the party's chances in next year's election. "Five percent (of the votes) will be fine."

"Insya Allah (God willing), we'll get more support in five to 10 years," he added.

Insiders said the new party had already established 16 regional chapters and was also counting on the support of several discontented provincial chapters of Golkar.

Separately, Akbar, who is also the Minister/State Secretary, played down the significance of the declaration, saying on Tuesday that he had no right to prevent Golkar members from leaving if they were dissatisfied with his leadership.

Akbar considered the establishment of a new party a challenge to Golkar to further improve its performance and secure victory at next year's election. "Let the voters decide if they prefer this new political party or Golkar," he said. He dismissed speculation that the new party would poach Golkar's traditional supporters.

Bambang Warih Koesoema, who was among those who drew up plans for the new party, said two organizations would be established: one a political party and the other a joint secretariat which would function as a moral movement.