Bringing the opposition forces together into a party

Jawa Pos – July 15, 2003
FNPBI member speaking a labour rally (Berdikari)
FNPBI member speaking a labour rally (Berdikari)

Rony Panengah, Jakarta -- If there are no obstacles, another political party will soon be born. What’s interesting is that this political party represents opposition forces which to date have chosen to take there struggle into the streets.

Opposition groups which will definitely join [the new political party] are the Indonesian National Front for Labour Struggle (FNBI), the People’s Democratic Party (PRD), the National Student League for Democracy (LMND), the People’s Cultural Network (Jaker), the National Farmers Union (STN) and 16 other opposition groups. One of the figures behind the establishment of this opposition party is Dita Indah Sari, the general chairperson of FNPBI.

According to Dita, they are taking this step to respond to the need for unity within the opposition [movement]. “Because without unity, it is very difficult to struggle against the existing authorities”, she said yesterday at the Juang Building in Menteng, Central Jakarta.

Dita said that at present, the political elite who hold power do not side with ordinary people. Because of this, it is hoped that the birth of this opposition party will provide an alternative for people in the 2004 general elections.

In fact it is not at all suppressing that Dita is pioneering a new party of this kind, since for some time she has often defended the interests of workers. For example, when [she was involved in] organising demonstrations rejecting the legislation of the [draft] laws on labour not long ago.

“So we are hoping that this party will become a political vehicle for people outside of the parties which are in power at present”, she said.

Dita first became involved in the world of politics when she joined Student Solidarity for Indonesian Democracy (Solidaritas Mahasiswa Indonesia untuk Demokrasi, SMID). Later, she was also involved in the formation of the PRD.

Dita’s name started to become well known when she lead an action by around 20 thousand workers in Surabaya, East Java in 1996. At that time, she was tortured by security forces and then jailed for three years.

During the period that followed, Dita was increasingly busy defending the rights of workers although the risk of being jailed always awaited her. With regard to the new party, she explained that at the moment they are in the process of preparing things. As part of this yesterday, the Committee for the Formation of a United Opposition Party (Komite Pembentukan Partai Persatuan Oposisi, KPPPO) was [publicly] launched.

With regard to the name of the new party, there are three alternatives. That is the United People’s Opposition Party (Partai Oposisi Rakyat Bersatu, PORB), the United People’s Democratic Party (Partai Persatuan Rakyat Demokratik, PPRD) and the Peoples United Opposition Party (Partai Persatuan Oposisi Rakyat, Popor).

Dita herself [said she] felt optimistic about the future of the new party because there are already a number of programs which have been put into place to attract people’s support.

For example, the most pressing program which will be implimented by the party will be to reduce the price of basic goods and services. “How, though subsidies on people’s basic needs”, she asserted convincingly.

Another issue -- according to Dita -- which will benefit society will be increasing salaries or wages by 100 per cent. Including the wages of house keepers, low-ranking soldiers and non-commissioned officers. Aside from this, there are a number of other important agenda items [in the new party’s program].

In order to increase the level of support, the party will also link up with organisations which have a large mass base. For example with labour organisations, farmers’ groups, non-government organisations and so on. And, for this initial stage, the regional infrastructure is in the process of being put into place. ***

[Translated by James Balowski.]