M. Rizal Maslan, Jakarta – Around 52 activists have declared the formation of the Volunteers for Democratic Struggle (Relawan Perjuangan Demokrasi, RPD) and say they have decided to join with the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). One of them is the former chairperson of the People’s Democratic Party (PRD), Budiman Sudjatmiko.
The declaration took place at the Hotel Sofyan Betawi on Jalan Cut Meutia in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Friday December 3. Aside from Sudjatmiko other activists include Rahardjo Waluyo Jati from the PRD, former Information Centre for Action and Reformation Network (Pijar) chairperson Haikal, Akuat Supriyanto, Beathor Suryadi, Masinton Pasaribu from the Indonesian Youth Front (FPPI) and Sinyo from the Joint People’s Movement (GBR).
In a statement read by Sudjatmiko, they said that they were launching the RPD and joining with the PDI-P in order to return the party to being a party based on populist struggle. “Or principle is that a political party must always be sustained by the life blood, the determination of energy and ideas. Therefore although so far the functions of this political party have yet to be optimal and even that here and there [the party] has weaknesses we are of the view that it is inappropriate for a political party to be ignored in [the struggle to] build democracy”, he said.
Sudjatmiko said that their own struggle had similarities with the spirit of the PDI-P. Therefore he continued, they had chosen a political party which is nationalist, pluralist and with a populist base. “Although there is still much which must be sorted out in terms of professionalism, ethics and morals, in the vision of struggle and other programs within the PDI-P, all of this is a challenge for the PDI-P to become the party of the little people”, he said.
When asked if their merger into the PDI-P was because they were tired of the road and want seek their fortunes, Sudjatmiko firmly denied this saying the task of the younger generation is not to just maintain their idealism but to make it into reality.
“We have not changed in terms of our idealism, but we just want to realise our ideas and concepts within a party. On the issue of being poor or not, we are not seeking riches within the party. Certainly in the past there have been those of us who have worked in other places. We will demonstrate [in practice] that we are not seeking riches in the party”, he asserted.
Beathor Suryadi added that the entry of youth into the PDI-P will provide significant capital to the party lead by former President Megawati Sukarnoputri. To date, pro-democracy activists have only been spectators and have been sidelined. “If is for this [reason] that we chose the PDI-P as a party which is open, pluralist and nationalist as our political tool”, he said.
Following the declaration, they filled in forms to obtain party membership cards which were then handed over to People’s Representative Assembly member Trimedya Panjaitan who was present at the event.
“I am not a central executive board member [but] perhaps later [I] can find the right time to hand over (the forms) to the central executive board, perhaps they could also be given to the chairperson. But I don’t know when the [right] time will be. But yes, after the plenary meeting to prepare for the PDI-P’s congress last night, the central executive board was pleased with these friends joining [the party], the only thing remaining is what kind of ceremonial process [will be organised] to present the party membership cards [to them]”, he explained.
Panjaitan warned that the atmosphere within the movements is different from a political party and therefore he hoped that they would not try to position themselves in too high a position. “If [you try] to position yourself too highly [you] will be disappointed. But if [you] have a commitment to restore the PDI-P’s image as the party of the little people, we can work together”, he said. (rif)
[Translated by James Balowski.]