APSN Banner

Golkar wants to maintain ABRI's support

Jakarta Post - January 6, 1999

Jakarta – The dominant party Golkar begged on Tuesday that the powerful Armed Forces (ABRI) reconsider its expressed stance of no longer supporting any political parties, including Golkar, in the coming polls.

"The ties between Golkar and ABRI are a historical fact. We are hoping that this close relationship be taken inta account by ABRI," GoLkaI chairman Akbar Tandjung told reporters after a House of Representatives (DPR) plenary session for the presentation of the 1999/2000 state budget.

"It's legal for Golkar to maintain the ties as the other political parties are also eager to have such a relationship with ABRI," said Akbar who is also Minister/State Secretary.

The Army sponsored in 1964 the merge of six mass organizations to form Golkar in an effort to overcome the increasing influence of the now-outlawed Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

The ABRl-Golkar relationship continued with the introduction of the A-B-G tripartite organizational structure in 1985, in which A represents ABRI, B represents the bureaucracy and G the existing mass and social organizations allied under Golkar's umbrella.

In response to Golkar's appeal, Armed Forces Chief of Territorial Affairs Lt. Gen. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono dismissed the possibility of reestablishing the ties with the organization.

"ABRI is determined to becomte a good referee in the upcoming general election," he told reporters separately after the House plenary session. "ABRI will, therefore, maintain its neutrality and not side with any political parties, " he said.

He said ABRI's interest was to have a general election that is safe, orderly, democratic, open, accountable, honest and fair "I think that's what ABRI wants to do. And we are all preparing for it," Susilo said.

On a separate occasion. chairman of the National Awakening Party (PAN) Amien Rais said his party would be ready to coalesce with any political parties after the general election.

"We'll be ready to form a coalition with any parties, as long as they have the same platform and goals as ours," he said, while addressing the opening of the Yogyakarta chapter of the party.

Amien, however, said it would be least likely to form a coalition with Golkar, given the deep distrust that people have for the political organization which for the past three decades had been acting as the political machinery of Soeharto's New Order regime.

"Although Golkar repents and asks for forgiveness, it's still the least likely altemative for us to form a coalition with it," he said.

Amien acknowledged the considerable financial resources at Golkar's disposal for next June's general election which he believed originated from the Dakab Foundation.

"People at the grassroots do not bother with political parties. They'll vote for any party that gives them money."

"And I do not want the Dakab fund to be used for a certain political party's interest," he said, adding that Golkar had the capability of doing such a thing.

Dakab, established in 1985 used to provide financial support for the dominant Golkar. Its assets are said to be worth Rp 836.20 billion (US$106.8 million). This foundation collected Rp 50 from the monthly salaries of low-level Moslem civil servants and Armed Forces (ABRI) members.

Senior officials had their monthly pay docked by Rp 1,000. Soeharto, however, had last November handed over to the government the funds from the seven charity foundations.. he chaired, a total of about Rp 4 trillion (US$530 million). They included the Dakab Foundation.