May 22, 2024 Last Updated 6:09 AM, May 21, 2024

We want a new government!

History is knocking at Indonesia's door. And on Monday 26 January dozens of activists belonging to Pijar Indonesia knocked at the People's Consultative Assembly building (MPR). Bearing a banner with the words 'A new president will ease the storm', the group reiterated Pijar's belief that only when Suharto steps down will the economic and political catastrophe end. Pijar is convinced that Suharto is himself the real storm and the catastrophe.

Yelling slogans like 'Reject Suharto, change Suharto!', 'Long live Megawati!', 'Bring down prices, Suharto and his family!', and others, the Pijarians then combined forces with about a hundred PDI-Megawati supporters who had gathered earlier in the lobby of the old parliament. From that moment the two pro- democracy groups began a joint action.

Pijar and PDI-Megawati activists alternately presented speeches, slogan yelling, poetry readings, and songs (accompanied by Pijar's musical ensemble Foker). All were momentarily silenced by the entry into the building of parliamentarians Harmoko and Abdul Ghafur, but soon they broke into loud shouts of 'Reject Suharto, change Suharto!' and 'Bring down prices, Suharto and his family!'. The two senior parliamentarians quickly went inside with reddening faces.

Megawati and Amien

The action was led by Pijar Indonesia chairman Widyankristyoko, who ended it by reading a Pijar statement entitled 'A new president will ease the storm'. The title alludes to the president's budget speech on 6 January, where he assured the nation that 'the storm will ease by and by'.

Pijar basically urged the MPR assembly in March to withdraw its mandate to Suharto and not to reelect him as president. President Suharto has used his political position to enrich himself, his family, and his colleagues. As a result most of the Indonesian people are now suffering from the collapse of the economic and political system.

Pijar wants the MPR to nominate and elect Megawati Sukarnoputri and Amien Rais as president and vice-president. Behind these two leaders for renewal stand six million angry people who have lost their jobs, 30 million PDI-Megawati supporters, tens of millions of Amien Rais supporters, and many more anxious people in the cities.

After conveying this demand to the MPR, Pijar also proposed what it called 'An Indonesian Transitional Government 1998-2000'. This transitional government will run for two years and have as its main task to organise fair and honest elections. Only people with a proven social commitment and who are still young are eligible to sit in this government.

Among them are the following:

  • Abdurrahman Wahid (also known as Gus Dur, chairman of the Islamic organisation Nahdatul Ulama) as chairman of the MPR;
  • Mudrick Sangidu (chairman of the Solo branch of the Islamic political party PPP and also a Megawati supporter) as chairman of parliament;
  • Adi Andojo Soetjipto (honest former High Court judge) as chief judge of the High Court;
  • Try Sutrisno (current Vice-President, a retired army general) as chairman of the Supreme Advisory Council, DPA;
  • Mar'ie Muhammad (current Finance Minister) as chairman of the anti-corruption watchdog BPK;

Of course, the president should be Megawati Sukarnoputri, and the vice-president Amien Rais. Of the 22 members of the transitional cabinet, two are in government already, namely:

  • Sarwono Kusumaatmadja (current Environment and Population Minister) as State Secretary;
  • General Wiranto (current Army Chief of Staff) as Armed Forces Commander.

From the Muslim intellectuals association Icmi there are:

  • Adi Sasono (Icmi general secretary) as Minister for Cooperations and Small Business;
  • Dr Jalaluddin Rakhmat (university lecturer in communication) as Information Minister;
  • Dr Nurcholish Madjid (moderate Islamic intellectual) as Minister for Religious Tolerance.

From within the secular nationalist political party PDI there are:

  • Kwik Kian Gie (lecturer and columnist in economics) as Minister for Planning and Chairman of the national planning board Bappenas;
  • Dr Mochtar Buchori (academic at the Academy of Sciences) as Education Minister;
  • Laksamana Sukardi (banking specialist) as Governor of the Bank of Indonesia;
  • Alex Litaay (secretary of Megawati's PDI) as Youth Minister.

From among well-known critical analysts, there are:

  • Marzuki Darusman (member of the National Human Rights Commission) as Foreign Minister;
  • Dr Todung Mulya Lubis (lawyer and one of the founders of the legal aid movement) as Justice Minister;
  • Dr Sri Bintang Pamungkas (engineer, founder of the political group Pudi, currently a political prisoner) as Minister for Industry and Trade;
  • Dr Muchtar Pakpahan (lawyer, founder of the independent labour union SBSI, currently a political prisoner) as Labour Minister;
  • Permadi (lawyer, psychic and Megawati supporter) as Attorney General;
  • Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara (lawyer, head of the human rights organisation Elsam) as Minister for Land.

Pijar, founded in 1989, consists largely of students in Jakarta. It produces an alternative news magazine (available on the internet at http://kdp- and has taken part in many protests for reform.

Inside Indonesia 54: Apr-Jun 1998

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