Old politicians dominate legislative candidate lists

Kompas – December 30, 2003
General Election Commission building (Suara Merdeka)
General Election Commission building (Suara Merdeka)

Jakarta – Old names are still dominating the candidate members for the People’s Representative Assembly (DPR) in the lists submitted on Monday, December 29, to the General Election Commission (KPU) by the political parties who will participate in the 2004 general elections. In general, political party leaders are spread over a number of electoral districts and the majority of them are ranked highly in the list of candidates. Retired military officers and celebrities are also being championed in a number of electoral districts.

By 11.45pm, all of the political parties had submitted their lists of legislative candidates. Not all of the political parties have submitted the maximum number legislative candidates which are allowed – 600 names or the equivalent of 120 per cent of the 550 seats which will contested in the elections on April 5. In addition, not every political party has nominated legislative candidates in all 69 electoral districts which are spread over the 32 provinces of Indonesia.

Only the [former state ruling party] Golkar has submitted the maximum number of legislative candidates, while the [President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s] Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has submitted 477 candidates. The Democratic Party has submitted 477 candidates, the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party 200, the United Democratic Nationhood Party 268, the Reform Star Party 294, the New Indonesia Party 284, the Prosperous Peace Party 268, the Pancasila Patriot Party 244, the Regional United Party 241, the Indonesian Nahdlatul Community Party 250, the Indonesian United Party 284, the United Development Party 628, the Freedom Party 220, the National Awakening Party 538 and the Indonesian Democratic Struggle Party 309.

The last minute submission of legislative candidates created problems for KPU secretariat staff who have to examine each dossier and form one by one while the time allotted for this is limited. The atmosphere at the KPU on the night was chaotic.

In response to this, KPU vice-chairperson Ramlan Surbakti said that at least this indicated the readiness of the political parties in preparing their lists of candidate legislative members. Aside from administrative difficulties, the overriding internal dynamic of the political parties was candidates’ desire to get a high ranking in the lists which also consumed a lot of time. Ironically this also happened with the political parties which passed the electoral threshold in the 1999 elections [and therefore did not have to go though the verification process before submitting a list of candidates] and who should realistically have had more time in comparison with the other new political parties.

Party leaders

Central leaders of political parties who are currently members of the 1999-2004 DPR have also generally been given a high ranking in the electoral districts. Taufik Kiemas, Megawati’s husband, is contesting the West Java II electoral district while the general secretary of the PDI-P, Sutjipto and the assistance general secretary of PDI-P, Pramono Anung, will fight it out in East Java.

Other PDI-P figures who have been place first in the list include Guruh Soekarnoputra (East Java electoral district VI), Heri Achmadi (East Java electoral district VII), Permadi (East Java electoral district IX), Soetardjo Soerjogoeritno (Yogyakarta electoral district, Central Java), Mangara Siahaan (West Java electoral district I) and Noviantika Nasution (West Java electoral district IV).

Outspoken PDI-P figures [who have been critical of the party] such as Arifin Panigoro, have been placed in electoral districts [where the PDI-P does not have such a significant base of support] such as Banten I, with Tjahjo Kumolo being placed in the Central Java electoral district III, Gunawan Wirosarojo in Central Java electoral district V, Jacob Tobing in Central Java electoral district VII, Theo Syafei in West Nusa Tenggara electoral district I and Teras Narang in Central Kalimantan.

This was also the case with the Justice and Unity Party of Indonesia (PKP Indonesia). PKP Indonesia’s general chairperson, Edi Sudradjat and general secretary Samuel Semson were placed as candidates in the West Java electoral district IV with a ranking one and two respectively. Meanwhile DPR member Astrid Susanto was placed in first position in the West Papua electoral district. In the Maluku islands, PKP Indonesia submitted the name of John Pieris with a ranking of number one.

The general chairperson of the National Functional Party of Concern (PKPB), retired general R Hartono and PKPB general secretary Ary Mardjono will contest East Java.

Golkar party

The composition of the legislative candidates from the Golkar party, according to the chairperson of Golkar’s central leadership board, Rambe Kamarulzaman, will only be announced publicly by the central leadership board after it has been officially submitted to the KPU.

Meanwhile Golkar vice-chairperson Yahya Zaini added that in general it can be concluded that around 60 per cent of Golkar’s legislative candidates are new faces. “Of the 120 DPR members from the Golkar Party fraction only around 80 have been re-nominated”, explained Zaini.

Among Golkar’s legislative candidates there are also a number of retired military officers such as Djoko Subroto (East Java), Arifin Tarigan and Edi Waluyo (Centra Java). Syamsul Muarif and Sri Redjeki, along with two ministers from the Gotong Royong [coalition] cabinet lead by Megawati who have also been nominated as legislative candidates.

From celebrity circles there are names such as Nurul Arifin (West Java), Puput Novel (West Java), Reny Jayusman (Central Java) and Ruhut Sitompoel (West Java). Golkar’s legislative candidate list also includes former student activists Wahid and Luthfi Iskandar as well as Tengku Sahrul Ansori.

Meanwhile, the Reform Star Party (PBR), according to its general secretary Djafar Badjeber, has submitted 294 legislative candidates. Retired military officers have also joined PBR’s list of legislative candidates including Syamsu Djalal (West Sumatra electoral district I), Andi Djalal Bachtiar (South Sulawasi electoral district I) and Cholid Gozali (South Sumarra electoral district I). The general chairperson of PBR, KH Zaenuddin MZ will contest the electoral district of Jakarta I while Badjeber will contest Jakarta electoral district II.

Internal figures

The Star Crescent party (PBB) has tended to rely more on internal party figures for its candidates. PBB assistant general secretary Bintang Yasin Ardhy said that PBB wanted to put forward its own figures as candidate legislative members. It is not surprising that central leadership board members such as PBB vice-chairperson MS Kaban is also a legislative candidates for the Bandung regency in West Java. Internal PPB figures vice-chairpersons Sahar L Hasan and Ahmad Sumargono are also legislative candidates for the Tangerang and Indramayu regency/city electoral districts in West Java.

“We wanted to include the party’s own cadres as legislative members. And we are not lacking in cadres so we did not feel it was necessary to look for [candidates] from outside [the party] or seek national artists for the sake of jacking up the vote”, said Yasin.

Meanwhile a members of the legislative candidate list committee and the general director of the United Development Party (PPP), Hasrul Azwar, revealed that in general the current PPP legislative candidates are better than before. “In general, the legislative candidates have been drawn from the board of managers, the board of experts, the Islamic law board, the board of review, from [the party’s various] departments and a section of the party’s DPR fraction, with the proportion of younger verses older legislative candidates being around 60 to 40 in all districts”, he said.

Another PPP source revealed that the general secretary of  PPP’s board of directors, Yunus Yosfiah, was the legislative candidate for South Sulawasi together with the chairperson of PPP’s board of directors Andi Muhammad Ghalib. Meanwhile a number of artists have also become PPP legislative candidates for East Java.

Activist background

Unlike the other parties, the Social Democratic Workers Party (PBSD), a party which accommodates victims of the New Order [regime of former President Suharto], has rejected the inclusion of former military officers and New Order politicians as becoming PBSD legislative candidates. PBSD has prepared 294 legislative candidates, the majority of whom are activists, either trade union, student and women activists. “The inclusion of [retired] generals, police [officers], politicians who have sat in the DPR/MPR and shady business people has not been allowed”, explained PBSD general chairperson Muchtar Pakpahan.

PPP Reformasi protest

On Monday afternoon meanwhile, demonstrators from the Guardian Party for Reform Struggle (PPP Reformasi) which failed to fulfil the requirements to become a participant in the 2004 elections, demonstrated in front of the KPU offices. Carrying party flags, the demonstrators who totaled around 30 people, protested the actions of the KPU which is saw as not having paid heed to their aspirations. The claimed that they had already fulfilled the requirements for factual verification in 22 provinces however the KPU is sticking to a report from the provincial KPU that says PPP Reformasi had only fulfilled the requirements in 20 provinces and therefore had not fulfilled the requirements to participate in the elections.

In an open statement which was presented by PPP Reformasi general secretary Masgar Kartanegara, PPP Reformasi accused the KPU of human rights violations by isolating PPP Reformasi cadre who have been held at the Nurut Taqwa Mosque near the KPU building since Friday. (SUT/dik/VIN/MAM/bdm)

[Translated by James Balowski.]