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Golkar rejects its old image JAKARTA - Growing resentment against calls to become loyalists of former president Soeharto has led the former dominant party, Golkar, to exercise a good measure of damage control in its campaigns by removing itself from symbols of the past regime. Soeharto was the main patron of Golkar and calls from a political party set up by his former aide, R. Hartono, for people to again become the second president's loyalists has provoked indignant cries of rejection. Hartono made the call when campaigning for his Concern for the Nation Functional Party (PPKB) in Soeharto's hometown of Yogyakarta, just as campaigners for Golkar said that the past years have been better than the current "reform" period.
On Wednesday in Ambon, Maluku, Golkar leader Akbar Tandjung said that "we will repair the mistakes of the New Order." In Malang, East Java on Monday, Akbar had told some 10,000 supporters that the current administration "is worse than 10 years ago when Golkar was in power." In Jakarta, Golkar executive Fahmi Idris stressed that the public should differentiate the good from the bad (in the New Order regime). The "good" was the improvement of welfare, he said. "We must not take bad things (from the past), we must continue with the right things," he said after addressing hundreds of Golkar supporters in a sports building in Kembangan district, West Jakarta, on Wednesday.
Another Golkar Party executive, Agung Laksono, went a step further. "People are getting ... much poorer than six years ago. It shows that Golkar could perform better than the existing regime. We will give you jobs, and we promise we won't be corrupt anymore if we are back in power," Agung told some 300 Golkar supporters in Kelapa Gading, Jakarta. Since the 1999 elections, the Golkar Party has been struggling to create a new image and to distance itself from the political mechanism used by Soeharto's regime of 32 years.
Vanishing expectations of the "reform" period have become good campaign material for political parties other than President Megawati Soekarnoputri's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). Golkar has been no exception, referring to the "good old days", since the campaign period started on March 11. Also on Wednesday a miffed Sultan and Yogyakarta Governor Hamengkubuwono X rejected the call for the nation to become Soeharto's loyalists. A day before Soeharto quit on May 21, 1998, Hamengkubuwono announced that Yogyakarta people should support the reform movement. He expressed on Wednesday his rejection of the idea that the people should be lackeys of the New Order regime.
Separately, Japto S. Soerjosoemarno, who leads the Pancasila Patriot Party, dismissed accusations that his party was a forum for hoodlums. This perception stems from the organization of the party's founders, the Pancasila Youth (PP), a former arm of Golkar which was once associated with protection rackets. "None of our supporters have even violated traffic regulations," Japto said. The campaign was attended by hundreds of people wearing military-style uniforms, most of whom were PP members.
Japto blamed the government for its failure to combat narcotic-related crimes and urged an end to the illegal distribution of alcohol, and thuggery. Agus Syaifullah, who said had been a member of PP since 1984, said that he underwent paramilitary training by marine and Army officers at the military's camp in Rindam, East Jakarta. Denying charges that PP was involved in thuggery, he said that the practices "might have been conducted by unscrupulous members (oknum) of our group with no clear instruction from our boss."
Meanwhile corruption remains a favorite topic for other political parties to lure would-be voters. In Palembang, South Sumatra's Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) leader M. Iqbal Romzi said that his party was determined to combat rampant corruption. Like a few other parties, PKS has sold cheap staple food during its campaign. The Supervisory Election Committee (Panwaslu) and the General Elections Commission (KPU) consider the donation of free staple food in campaigns as a form of "money politics". However, there is no regulation on selling cheap staple food.
Also in Makassar, PKS, Crescent Star Party (PBB), Golkar, the Reform Star Party (PBR), the Nationhood Democratic Party (PDK), the United Development Party (PPP) and the Indonesia Democratic party for Struggle (PDI-P) signed an agreement with some 100 farmers and fishermen in the city. The parties pledged to withdraw their elected legislators or councillors, if they failed to hear the aspirations of their constituents.

Posted in Earthquake @ 18 March 2004 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink lists all earthquakes that occur in Indonesia. For your convenience we display them in a list and a Google Map. It is as accurate and recent as you can imagine as we check for updates every few minutes. If an earthquake occurs in Indonesia, this is the place to check it out in the first place.

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