Golkar didn’t use covert means to win votes : Harmoko

GOLKAR chairman Harmoko has denied allegations that the ruling party used covert means to increase its votes for the general election.

“There is no such thing,” the Antara news agency yesterday quoted him as saying.

The Muslim-based United Development Party (PPP) alleged on Tuesday that it had uncovered a plan it called “Operation Dawn” to distribute food to voters at dawn before the election on May 29 in areas where Golkar had lost seats in the 1992 polls.

The PPP said the plan was revealed in a letter from the executive board of the Golkar-affiliated Islamic Communication Forum (FKOI), which called on regional chiefs to list all the villages and sub-districts which did not support Golkar.

The letter, dated March 20, ordered its members to co-ordinate election supervision with the military, civil servants and Golkar cadres. Sources here believe the targeted areas include Jakarta, East Java, West Sumatra and East Kalimantan.

FKOI said in a separate statement this week that it would hold early morning prayers at mosques in areas which Golkar fared badly at the last polls. It would also distribute snacks and coffee after the prayers.

The forum’s spokesman, Mr Choirul Sholeh Rasyid, said the operation was aimed at encouraging people to turn up to cast their votes and behave in an orderly manner.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday after meeting President Suharto, Mr Harmoko said FKOI’s move had “nothing to do with trying to elicit votes” for Golkar.

“Operation Dawn” was not part of its election strategy, he stressed, adding that “anything outside of Golkar’s election agenda is not Golkar’s responsibility”.

But he said social groups affiliated with the party were free to pursue their own strategies, including social work and giving donations to voters.

“That’s up to the organisations concerned,” he said.

Meanwhile, the General Election Institute’s Secretary-General, Mr Suryatna Subrata, was quoted in news reports yesterday as saying that if such a plan existed, it would violate electoral laws which stipulate a five-day “cooling-off” period after the election campaign.

“There will be action from the Election Supervision Committee if that is the case,” he said.

On Tuesday, President Suharto rebuked the three parties contesting the polls, following the sporadic violence among their supporters at campaign hustings. On Wednesday, thousands of rival PPP and Golkar supporters clashed during an election campaign in west Jakarta. Riot police and soldiers broke up the fight.

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