PPP winds up campaign with attack on corruption

Leaders stress party is not anti-military

THE Muslim-based United Development Party (PPP) yesterday launched a no-holds-barred attack on corruption in the country as the party rounded up its election campaign.

Speaking to more than 15,000 supporters in Serang, West Java, PPP chairman Ismail Metareum called for firm measures to stem corruption and collusion among government officials.

“We must get rid of such practices,” he said. “What has happened to Eddy Tansil? Has the government made any effort to find him?”

High-profile Chinese businessman Eddy Tansil escaped from prison last year while serving a 20-year jail term for embezzling 1.3 trillion rupiahs (S$596 million) from the state-owned Indonesian Development Bank.

“We must defend and uphold the laws of this country and not let anyone exploit them for his own benefit,” said Mr Metareum. He also called on PPP supporters to keep the peace in the run-up to the polls next Thursday.

“Do not break any laws and cause anarchy,” he said, warning them to stay clear of infiltrators who were trying to destroy the PPP’s credibility.

He had said earlier this week that members of the banned People’s Democratic Party (PRD) were behind many of the riots in the country.

Since hustings began on April 27, several clashes have broken out between supporters of the PPP and the ruling Golkar party mainly in Central Java and Jakarta. PPP supporters have also been involved in clashes with security forces.

Mr Metareum was upbeat about his party’s chances in the polls.

“We are supported by all layers of society now. Just look at the huge numbers of people who are attending this rally,” he said, as his supporters chanted Bintang, which means star in Indonesian. The PPP party symbol is a star.

Other PPP cadres, who spoke at the rally, called on the party’s supporters to join forces with the Indonesian Armed Forces (Abri) to uphold the country’s laws.

“Together with Abri, we will paint this country green,” said party cadre Syaefuddin.

He added there was a misperception on the part of many people that the PPP was anti-military.

“We are one with Abri and support them,” he said. “Our fight is against Golkar and the Indonesian Democratic Party. No one else.”

The party has been enjoying surprisingly strong support, including backing from Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) supporters disenchanted with the government-backed ouster of former leader Megawati Soekarnoputri.

Anxious to distance itself from the further violence, the PPP announced late on Tuesday that it would hold only small-scale dialogues and distribute leaflets today.

The PDI, whose turn it was to campaign in Java on Tuesday, limited its activities to the distribution of leaflets, continuing the low-key approach that has typified its efforts to avoid clashes with pro-Megawati supporters.

Campaign facts and figures

* A record 125 million people are eligible to vote for the 425 elected seats in the House of Representatives next Thursday, following a five-day cooling-off period from campaigning.
* Another 75 seats in the legislature are reserved for the country’s powerful military, which does not vote.
* The United Development Party (PPP), Golkar and the badly-split Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) are the only three groups permitted legally to contest the elections, which are held every five years.
* Golkar is pushing to get more than 70 per cent of the vote, up from 68 per cent in the last elections in 1992. It is expected to win comfortably after 30 years in power under President Suharto. The PPP won 17 per cent of the vote in 1992 and the PDI 15 per cent.
* Indonesian Election Board Secretary Suryatna Subrata said 123 civilians had died since the beginning of the campaign, mainly from traffic accidents in campaign convoys. Three security personnel also died in the period.

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