APSN Banner

PRD launches resolution for 2004 election

Green Left Weekly - January 28, 2004

James Balowski, Jakarta – In the presence of some 200 members and supporters, on January 16 the People's Democratic Party (PRD) "launched" its new central leadership board and 2004 general elections resolution. The resolution is titled "Not an election, but unifying the people to take power!".

The launch, held at the Jakarta Media Centre, followed the fifth congress of the party which was held in Salatiga on Central Java on December 16-19.

Outgoing general chairperson Harus Rusli Moti began the launch by outlining the differences in the political situation the PRD now faces, compared to that of the 1999 elections. He commented on the growing militancy of the Indonesian people. Every week, he pointed out, hundreds of actions across the country are being spontaneously organised against government policies such as mass dismissals, land evictions and liberalisation of food imports.

Moti also noted that people now have a totally cynical attitude towards the government – any illusions in the political parties and the political elite have long since vanished. He emphasised however, that this cynicism was not directed against the process of democracy or democratic reform, but rather the lack of progress by the government on this question during the last five years.

Following Moti's address, the PRD's new central leadership board for 2004-06 was introduced by PRD member Aan Rusdianto, who took the opportunity to joke that for the benefit of the military intelligence officers sitting the back of the hall, he would also detail each of the new leadership member's impressive political background, experience and commitment. Aan also noted the youthful character of the new leadership board, which has representatives from throughout Indonesia.

The new PRD leadership has a board of five members: Yusuf Lakaseng, general chairperson; Zely Ariane, general secretary; Ari Ariyanto, head of the department of political affairs, the military and issues of nationhood; Lukman Hakim, head of the department of economics, agriculture and the environment and; Vivi Widiawaty, head of the department of women's affairs, youth and culture.

Lakaseng took the podium to outline the key points of the PRD's resolution on the elections which was provided to participants in booklet form.

He noted that not one of the political parties contesting the elections was critical of the government's policy on Aceh and West Papua. This policy, he argued, has allowed the military to reassert its dual social and political role in society as the "guardians" of Indonesia. The reemergence of militarism, he said, represented one of the greatest threats to democracy in Indonesia.

Lakaseng pointed out that increasing poverty, unemployment and the prices of basic goods and services have impacted most on the lives of women. The irony, he said, is that although the development of capitalism in Indonesia had allowed many women to become wage earners, women have become the most underpaid and exploited layer of the working class. They also shoulder the burden of domestic responsibilities.

The destruction of the nation's productive forces and mass dismissals has also forced many women to become sex workers or go overseas as migrant workers, where they have almost no rights and are frequently the victims of violence and sexual abuse by their employers. The increasing economic pressures on poor families have also resulted in a sharp increase in domestic violence. The justification often given for this, traditional cultural values, religion and moral standards, is reinforced by the state through the marriage law, the criminal code and the draft law on pornography.

He argued that the 30% quota for women running as parliamentary candidates – which almost no political party has fulfilled – would not resolve the problems, even if it was 50%. At best this kind of affirmative action would only benefit upper- and middle-class women, he argued, continuing to say that women's liberation must be an integral part of the democratic struggle.

Lakaseng discussed the formation of the National Movement Against Electing Rotten Politicians (GNJPPB), which calls for an election boycott or golput and a campaign against holding the elections in Aceh while it remains under martial law.

While acknowledging that GNJPPB will influence public opinion, he asserted that its criteria for defining a "rotten politician" bbeing involved in human rights violations, corruption, sexual harassment and polluting the environment – would not address the people's real concerns: poverty, unemployment and rising prices. These, he said, have been caused by the implementation of neoliberal programs supported by all the political parties in parliament.

He also spoke about the moralist character of the movement, which said nothing about the relationship between human rights violations and the military, or widespread corruption in state institutions such as the police, civil service and judiciary. The use of the term "rotten politicians", he said, creates the illusion that it is individuals who are good or bad, not the system itself. What about the "rotten political parties", the "rotten bureaucratic system" and the "rotten economic policies", he asked.

Noting that no political party had put forward any concrete policies to overcome the economic and political crisis, Lakaseng emphasised that this movement should promote the active and mass participation of the people, and have a plan of what to do if after the 2004 elections the same rotten politicians dominate the government.

If this is the outcome, he said, the only solution is to struggle for the formation of a government of the poor, a government which represents a coalition from the progressive, democratic and revolutionary movements which have the central aim of organising the broadest layers of society, workers, farmers, the urban poor and other oppressed classes to struggle for their interests.

The launch ended with a presentation of people's radical poetry and a lively panel discusion on the tactics and strategies in the coming election.