The Urgent tasks of the people: Uniting the people’s struggle to defeat the political elite

Popor – July 27, 2003
People's United Opposition Party rally in Jakarta (Tempo)
People's United Opposition Party rally in Jakarta (Tempo)

[The following is a statement issued by the Central Leadership Board of the newly formed People’s United Opposition Party (Popor) which was launched on in Jakarta on July 27.]

Why has the people’s disappointment with the traditional political elite(1), and the broad acceptance by the people of demands for total reformasi, which has been accompanied by the people’s experience in using methods of radical struggle, not created a movement which can be an impetus for real change in Indonesia? In other words, why have the people, who are disappointed with the political elite and want immediate change, who support demands to replace the national leadership (the regime of President Megawati Sukarnoputri and Vice-president Hamzah Haz), who want changes to the political structure of the state and to purge [nation’s] political leadership of the remnants of the New Order [regime of former President Suharto], not accepted the overture to replacing the authorities [though] extra-parliamentary [methods] as proposed by the people’s opposition groups and organisations, as they did in 1996 (with the support of Megawati), in 1997 (through the Mega-Star-People coalition)(2), in 1998 (the overthrow of Suharto) and in 1999 (the rejection of [former President B.J.] Habibie and the emergency legislation UU PKB(3)?

These questions have become a major problem which is being faced by all groups struggling for democracy and social justice in confronting a situation [created by] the objective demands of Indonesian democratisation, where it is increasingly apparent that this cannot be fulfilled by the Megawati-Hamzah government which is ladened with the opportunism of the traditional political elite an the rotten tactics of the New Order remnants. These condition are added to by the continuing destruction of the people’s economic livelihood because of the demands of international capital which wants to take over all of the assets upon which the people’s livelihoods depend. The people are made to suffer, to surrender themselves to a vicious circle of poverty, oppression, state violence and an obscure future with no foreseeable end. The promises of change which were ignited by the traditional political elite who came to power after the New Order was pushed aside have been discarded, the people’s lives have been sunk a world of multi-national companies and a government which is truly at odds with the ordinary people of Indonesia.

Based upon this, a number of elements from the people’s struggle have [decided to] advance the spirit of anti-colonialism (neocolonialism/re-colonisation), [the struggle for] total democracy and social justice -- one which can improve the lives of the poor -- and came together at a congress with the aim of establishing a [new] political party(4) which can unite the potential of the genuine opposition movement which has worked actively beside the people, which is already conscious of the need and the importance of genuine [struggle] and which has consistently carried out [a program] of struggle and mass actions. Over the last three days, between July 24-26, representatives of a number of organisations and individuals who agree with the aim of uniting the opposition, discussed and debated the problems [faced by the] people’s struggle, primarily in relation with what must be done in the 2004 general elections.

The people cannot be abandoned again, so that the political elite can win them over through false dreams, false promises. The people must retake their authority which has been stolen by the elite. These two issues provide a basis to take action which will promote a popular political alternative for the people, provide direction for the people to act [in a way] which will bring democracy and social justice to the people. The popular opposition groups therefore, cannot just abandon the people to cradled by misleading ideas which are disseminated by the political parties who are in power at the moment. The false promises of these political parties must be exposed through the elections, these parties cannot be allowed to left to [falsely] win the people’s support.

The Congress to Form a United Opposition Party which resulted in the formation of the People’s United Opposition Party (Partai Persatuan Oposisi Rakyat, Popor), is aware that genuine people’s power, a democratic government of the people, cannot be won though the 2004 elections. However the congress is also aware that the most correct course [of action] at this time in order to broaden and draw together the strength of the people, is to take part in the 2004 election campaign, where the people’s interest in the world of politics and the nation are at their peak. It will be during the 2004 elections, that Popor will have an opportunity to fight, to defeat the misleading ideas of the political elite. Once again, Popor’s historical task in the 2004 elections is to struggle to draw together the people’s strength and to break through all of the efforts to deceive and oppress the people being carried out by the political elite though their political parties.

In closing this statement declaring the establishment of the People’s United Opposition Party, we call on the people to join together and be active with Popor. Popor is not just a political party who’s symbol must be marked by the people [when they vote], but a party which  represents a vehicle for the people’s struggle to create a democratic government of the people, a government which represents an actual creation of the people, a government which represents the highest form of organisation by the people to realise their demands.

We also call on the people join enthusiastically with Popor in establishing Popor secretariats which will become centres for the genuine struggle of the people.

Jakarta, July 27 2003
Central Leadership Board
People’s United Opposition Party

Dita Indah Sari, general chairperson
Donny Pradana, secretary general


1. The use of the term “elite penguasa” in the title and text was rendered as “the political elite”.’
2. Mega-Star-People (Mega-Bintang-Rakyat) – a slogan popularised during the 1997 election campaign calling on pro-Megawati supporters, the Islamic orientated United Development Party and broader popular forces to unite in a mass movement to replace Suharto.
3. Undang-Undang Penanggulangan Keadaan Bahaya, legislation to “prevent a state of danger” which was intended to strengthen the hand of former President Habibie during the 1999 October and November sittings of the People’s Consultative Assembly, when large demonstrations against the military and Habibie maintaining the presidency were expected (but in fact did materialise).
4. The original statement used the term “partai” rather than “political party”.

[Translated by James Balowski.]