Jakarta opposition wants meeting on crisis

Legislators to query why currency turmoil not solved.

LEGISLATORS from the Muslim-based United Development Party (PPP) want a special meeting to discuss Indonesia’s deepening economic crisis as a meeting of the country’s top-policy-making body got under way yesterday.

Mr Jusuf Syakir, who heads the PPP faction in Parliament, said there were rumbles of discontent in his party and some members have called for an “emergency meeting” to ask President Suharto why the monetary turmoil had not been resolved.

“There is a feeling that we need to hold such a session because the economic situation is getting worse,” he told The Straits Times.

“We want the assembly to consider our proposal to brainstorm ways of finding a solution.”

Speaking after meeting of PPP legislators to discuss Mr Suharto’s speech on Sunday at the opening of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), he said a special session would include the three political parties, the military and regional representatives.

It would convene only after the 1,000-member MPR elects the president and his running mate – a process that will take place early next week.

The chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council, Retired Admiral Sudomo, echoing the PPP’s sentiments, said the government should resolve the crisis within three years.

If not, the MPR had the right to ask the President for an explanation at a special session, he said.

Reports yesterday also quoted PPP legislator A. M. Saeffudin, as saying that Mr Suharto should step down if the problems were not resolved.

But Mr Jusuf yesterday downplayed such calls, saying the PPP was “solidly” behind the President and would continue to support him after the election.

“We just want him to push for clean governance and economic reforms when he gets elected,” he said.

He added that Mr Suharto’s speech to the assembly on Sunday failed to address the problems of corruption and collusion.

Business conglomerates, which controlled 60 per cent of the economy, had to bear responsibility for what was happening, he said, adding: “They get all the government facilities for their businesses. So they can’t just wipe off their hands from the crisis.”

Any special session would have to take into account such problems, he said, adding that while the PPP would push for the session it wanted the ruling Golkar to initiate the meeting.

But Golkar members contacted felt that a meeting was not necessary.

Said Golkar’s Din Syamsuddin: “The government is already doing its best to resolve the economic crisis.”

Mr Hasan Basri Durin, who heads the regional representatives faction in the MPR, said that Mr Suharto should not be held solely responsible for the crisis: “This is the responsibility of all Indonesians.”

It was a view shared by armed forces chief General Wiranto, who said on Sunday that now was not the time “to pass the buck” on who was responsible. “What we now need is to stay united to survive the monetary crisis.”

The MPR members will continue with closed-door party and committee meetings today. They will gather tomorrow in open session to respond to Mr Suharto’s address.

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