Wiranto calls for political compromise to form govt

He sees this as the only way to prevent chaos and attract investments, especially from the ethnic Chinese.

INDONESIA’S armed forces (Abri) chief, General Wiranto, yesterday called on politicians to reach a compromise over forming the next government, warning that if this did not happen, there would be chaos.

“If each political party continues to be headstrong in maintaining its own interests, then there will always be political unrest,” he told reporters.

“The solution would be everyone’s willingness to make sacrifices for a greater interest, for the nation and country. If everyone makes his own interest his first priority, then we will never achieve a good solution.”

Aides to the four-star general told The Straits Times that he made the comments given “the increasing likelihood of a confrontation between nationalists and Muslims”.

“His thinking is very similar to what Pak Lee Kuan Yew suggested for Indonesia’s stability,” said a senior adviser. “All the major players ought to be included in the power structure. Leaving out any group will polarise this country.”

Senior Minister Lee said recently that the best outcome for Indonesia was a combination of populist, reformist forces and that part of Golkar which also wanted reform but had the experience of government.

The adviser, quoting Gen Wiranto, said that this was the only way to attain political stability and attract foreign investments, especially from the ethnic Chinese.

He said: “We need to win back the confidence of the Chinese. Without them, the Indonesian economy will never recover. “Senior military sources said that while Gen Wiranto’s “heart is still with Golkar”, he recognised that the ruling party’s dismal electoral performance and unpopularity meant that it would have to work with other parties, mainly the Indonesian Democratic Party-Perjuangan (Struggle), or PDI-P.

The PDI-P, led by Ms Megawati Sukarnoputri, was still leading the race yesterday with 34.3 per cent of the votes. Golkar had edged into second place with 18.1 per cent.

An army general said that a government coalition of front-runners, such as the PDI-P, Golkar, the Nation Awakening Party, United Development Party and National Mandate Party, meant “an easier job for the military”.

Abri’s posture of neutrality and signal to all fledgling presidential aspirants that it was keeping its options open was seen again when it maintained that gender was not a basis on which to choose Indonesia’s next leader. Several Muslim leaders have opposed a Megawati leadership.

The chief of territorial affairs, Lieutenant-General Bambang Yudhoyono, said that the military’s criteria were only that the individual be “the nation’s best citizen”.

“In a democracy there is no discrimination,” reports yesterday quoted him as saying.

COALITION: What a general says

‘BASED on history, tradition and Pak Wiranto’s personal inclinations, the army could support Golkar, but that would somewhat ignore the people’s will and create a public backlash,’ said an Abri source.

‘On the other hand, we have reservations about supporting Megawati given growing Muslim resentment against her. It is too simplistic to suggest the military will support her because PDI-P has the largest vote share.

‘We would prefer if the leading parties come to some sort of mutual power-sharing arrangement themselves without forcing us to take sides.

‘In public, we will keep our cards close to our chest and make known our preference only at the eleventh hour if the civilians can’t come to an agreement.’

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