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Latest violence spurs discussion on Suharto era thugs' links to political elite

Kompas.com - November 27, 2021

Rakhmat Nur Hakim, Jakarta – The mass organisation Pancasila Youth (Pemuda Pancasila, PP) is currently the subject of lively discussion after several members set upon and assaulted a police officer during a demonstration in front of the parliamentary building in Jakarta on Thursday November 25.

The demonstration was held to protest a statement by House of Representatives (DPR) Commission II Deputy Chairperson Junimart Girsang who called for the group to be disbanded.

In the end, the demonstration descended into chaos. The violence began when protesters tried to force they way into the parliamentary complex and police blocked them, holding the protesters at the front gate.

A number of Pancasila Youth members however acted in an anarchic way and set upon and assaulted a middle-ranked police officer, Metro Jaya regional police operational division head Assistant Superintendent Dermawan Karosekali.

This is not the first time that the Pancasila Youth has been involved in anarchic actions. The group was recently involved in a clash with the mass organisation the Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR) in the Ciledug area of Tangerang on Friday November 19.

Elite backing

Despite often being involved in anarchic actions, the group still has the backing of several national figures from the political elite. People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Bambang Soesatyo for example is listed as the organisation's deputy chairperson.

Even President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and Vice President Ma'ruf Amin are recorded as honorary members of the group.

Widodo was installed as an honorary member during the opening of the Pancasila Youth's convention at the Sultan Hotel in Jakarta on October 26, 2019.

Pancasila Youth General Chairperson Yapto Soerjosoemarno said that honorary members will receive his full protection as the chairperson of the organisation.

"We have appointed the President of the Republic of Indonesia Joko Widodo [as an honorary member]. [And] I am responsible for protecting all Pancasila Youth card holding members", said Soerjosoemarno.

Two days later on Youth Pledge Day on October 28, 2019, during the closing day of the Pancasila Youth's convention, it was Ma'ruf Amin's turn to be appointed as an honorary member. Soerjosoemarno personally appointed Amin as an honorary member after giving a speech closing the convention.

"In the name of God, most gracious, most merciful, we appoint KH Ma'ruf Amin as an honorary member or an extraordinary member of the Pancasila Youth", said Soerjosoemarno in closing the event.

Electoral support

Even before Widodo was appointed as an honorary member, the relationship between the Pancasila Youth the former Jakarta governor could be said to have been quite close.

This was demonstrated by the support given by the Pancasila Youth to Widodo and Amin in the 2019 presidential elections.

Pancasila Youth volunteers declared their support for the Widodo-Amin ticket during an event at the Senayan Sports Arena in Jakarta on Sunday March 3, 2019. In his greetings, Soerjosoemarno said that Widodo was an honest figure.

Represented by Soerjosoemarno, the Pancasila Youth also met with Widodo at the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta on November 5, 2018. Soerjosoemarno's visit was in the context of an audience.

"First of all we want to express our thanks for the quick response to a request for an audience. Although it took three months, that's [still] fast", said Soerjosoemarno.

Prior to this, Widodo also attended the Pancasila Youth's 58th anniversary which was held at the Sunan Hotel in Surakarta (Solo) in Central Java, on October 28, 2017.

Widodo's presence was greeted enthusiastically by Pancasila Youth members, and before being seated in his assigned place, Widodo shook hands with almost every Pancasila Youth member that was present.

In his greetings, the head of state said he hoped that the Pancasila Youth will safeguard and practice with devotion the state ideology of Pancasila.

"I hope that the Pancasila Youth will always be a bastion of Pancasila, I repeat, the Pancasila Youth will always be the bastion of Pancasila, the 1945 Constitution, the Unitary Republic of Indonesia and Bhinneka Tunggal Ika [unity in diversity]", said Widodo.

"Meeting with the ranks of the Pancasila Youth leadership on Youth Pledge Day did indeed feel extraordinary. The Pancasila Youth is a special mass organisation, special because in its name is the word Pancasila", said Widodo.


The Pancasila Youth was established by the army in October 1959, ostensibly to uphold the state ideology of Pancasila. During the 1965-66 anti-communist purge the group took an active part in the slaughter of Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) members and sympathisers. Under Suharto's New Order dictatorship the organisation became an association of notorious thugs and petty criminals who carried out the regime's dirty work. It still has close ties with factions of the military and police and has been linked to criminal activities such as racketeering and extortion. In recent years it has been involved in a number of violent turf wars with other vigilante groups and attacks on leftist groups and events that it deems to be "pro-communist" or "anti-Pancasila".

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Para Elite Politik di Lingkaran Pemuda Pancasila, dari Bamsoet hingga President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2021/11/27/00271051/para-elite-politik-di-lingkaran-pemuda-pancasila-dari-bamsoet-hingga-jokow