Budiman Sudjatmiko: Realising our ideals impossible without a party

Sinar Harapan – December 6, 2004
PDIP chairperson Megawati and Budiman Sudjatmiko (pdicabangmaya)
PDIP chairperson Megawati and Budiman Sudjatmiko (pdicabangmaya)

Jakarta – Last week, the former chairperson of the People’s Democratic Party (PRD), Budiman Sudjatmiko, decided to join the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) along with 51 other democratic activists. After two years of study in England, Sudjatmiko’s decision to enter the PDI-P appears to be the start of his return to the political arena. On Monday December 5, Inosensius Jemabut from Sinar Harapan obtained a special interview with Sudjatmiko. The following are some excerpts.

What was behind you decision to join the PDI-P?

Firstly, it was not to seek a political or structural position or to find a job or to get money by joining the party. But we first and foremost we wanted to realise the ideals which we have held to up until this time. Because from has happened and what we have experienced to date, obviously we cannot realise our ideals without joining a political party. Secondly, we are aware that we are new people in the party. So, me and the other friends who joined did not do so to be part of the management structure of the party. Yes of course it is true that first of all we must fit in with the rhythm, systems and mechanisms which already exist within the party. Certainly we won’t be able to demand much, but we must demonstrate our energy and commitment to duty, our competence, as it should be before anything else.

Why choose the PDI-P and not another party?

There were a number things which were considered by myself and the friends who joined the PDI-P after some months of discussion. Firstly, in terms of program, goals, vision and mission, on many issues obviously we are the same as the PDI-P. We wanted a party which is open, nationalist, pluralist and supports the aims of reformasi. Secondly, we also looked at our past experiences. I see the PDI-P as having the same experience as we did in the past. We both experienced what it was like to confront the forces which were in power at that time. Thirdly, the constituency who were our supporters in the provinces are the same and originate from the little people (wong cilik). I also see that this party is loved and close to the little people. Certainly the last general elections were a kind of anti-climax for the PDI-P, but I think that in the future it has a good chance and needs to be cleaned up collectively.

Whey didn’t you rejoin the PRD or form a new party all together?

I left the PRD because on a number of occasions in meetings and discussions there were issues that were incompatible. I decided to leave in 2002. Of course didn’t wish to damage the PRD internally and continue to exacerbate the central debates which existed. However I think it was good for future improvement of the PRD. I also didn’t establish a new party because there was already a party which had the same vision we aspired to. Indeed there are many parties such as Golkar and others, but we choose the one which was truly compatible with the ideals which we hold to.

You have repeatedly referred to the issue of ideals, what is this idealism of yours?

Firstly, I want to maintain and return the PDI-P to being a party which is struggling for the ordinary people, owned by the little people, not a place for people to seek power and money. So, it must show itself as truly being a party struggling for the interests of the little people. Secondly, in the future the PDI-P needs to sharpen its vision and mission, its working agenda and system as well as dynamics which will thereby differentiate it from other political parties at the moment. Thirdly, we want to and will try to bring ethical improvements, modern political morals collectively with the PDI-P in politics. Once again it is not for a carrier or money. There are people who see what I have done has been for a particular political position, but I emphasise it is not! We didn’t enter a political party like this to find a job.

Isn’t the PDI-P also dependent on figures such as its chairperson, former President Megawati Sukarnoputri?

I am of the view that there is nothing which is absolutely clear on the issue of figures. What is called a figure can become and obstacle in an organisation if they fail to or do not do develop good cadre for the organisation in the future. On the other hand if they are a successful and good leader, they can develop good cadres for the sake of the sustainability of the party or organisation in the future. Now, I have heard that Ibu Mega has said they will carryout a cadreisation and regeneration within the party by giving an opportunity to those who are young to play more of a role. If that happens certainly we see it as valuable.

Currently within the party there are efforts at reform being carried out by Kwik Kian Gie also aimed at such a regeneration, is that what you mean?

We will not participate in supporting this. But yes it’s true that at the time we wanted to join the PDI-P an internal fraction like that already existed within the party. But we don’t want to be involved in the existing fractions. We will not choose any one of these fractions, because we didn’t join the PDI-P to add to the existing problems, but after clearly seeing what exists.

Have you already met with Megawati and discussed your joining the PDI-P?

No! There was no meeting. I didn’t want to join the party because some particular access existed, but wanted to join the PDI-P in the same way as others have joined it.

Has their been any response from PDI-P people so far?

Different kinds. There have been those who have phoned me and also those who have expressed their happiness at my joining the PDI-P.

[Translated by James Balowski.]