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Bandung protest slams election law as return to Suharto's New Order

Kompas.com - September 10, 2014

Rio Kuswandi, Bandung – An alliance of social groups from various sectors of society held a protest action in front of the Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) building on Jl. Diponegoro in the West Java provincial capital of Bandung on Wednesday September 10 to oppose the draft law on regional elections (RUU Pilkada). They also set fire to a bier at the front gate of the DPRD building.

"We emphatically reject the draft law on Pilkada by the House of Representatives, whether it be on the election of regional heads at the provincial, regency or city level", said the coordinator of the People's Action Movement for Direct Elections, Azhar Hariman, during a break in the action.

According to Hariman if the RUU Pilkada is ratified and the election of regional heads returned to regional assemblies, then it will eliminate the ordinary people's right to directly elect their local leaders.

"This does not conform with the spirit of democracy, if it is ratified and [the election of regional heads] returned to the [regional] assemblies, the democratic system in Indonesia cannot be said to have advanced, but retreated back to the New Order era [of former President Suharto]", he asserted.

If the draft law is ratified, continued Hariman, it would mean that the people's struggle to create a democratic country will have been for nothing. The people have already fought to the last for the ratification of Law Number 32/2004 on regional administration and direct elections by the people.

"Yes, we have gone to great lengths to build this democratic system, before we looked forward eagerly for some time and fought for the direct election of regional heads by the people, now suddenly they want to change it again", he complained.

Hariman added that the current democratic system has given birth to many benefits. "The direct election of regional heads has given birth to political maturity, we can sift through candidates for the national leadership", he said.

Police officers were on guard to watch over the protest action. After a short wait, members of the DPRD came out to meet with the demonstrators, including among others, Waras Wasisto, Surahman and Yunandar from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) faction, Abdul Rozak Muslim from the Golkar Party faction and Sunatra from the Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) faction.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service.]

Source: http://regional.kompas.com/read/2014/09/10/13320751/Tolak.RUU.Pilkada.Demonstran.Bakar.Keranda.di.Depan.DPRD.Jabar.

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