Markus Junianto Sihaloho
A top executive from the country’s main opposition party called on the party faithful to unite around the teachings of Indonesia’s first president at a major event in Central Java on Sunday.
Puan Maharani, the chairwoman of the central leadership council of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), instructed party members to work to bring clear benefits to the people, such as leading cleanliness drives at public places, helping repair eroding infrastructure such as roads, and supporting victims of injustice.
Puan is the daughter of PDI-P chairwoman and former President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who is the daughter of Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno.
Party elders are hailing June as Bung Karno month, in reference to Sukarno, and the event in Purwokerto’s Satria Stadium on Sunday to mark the occasion drew an audience of more than 20,000 people from across the country, including 12,000 party members.
Puan said Purwokerto and the neighboring town of Banyumas were especially significant for Sukarno, as he attended the 10th congress of the Indonesian National Party (PNI) in the area in 1963.
“Bung Karno said the town of Purwokerto was the home of the PNI,” Puan said. “This is because the people here embody the spirit of the independence movement.”
The PDI-P also used the event to unite party members around the party’s goals for the 2014 general elections.
Puan said winning political battles was important in establishing a sovereign, independent Indonesia, according to Sukarno’s doctrine. She added that the party could only achieve this if it maximized its role in the legislative and executive branches of the government, both at the local and national level.
“I call on all party members to work to win local, legislative and the presidential elections,” she said at the event.
She cited recent PDI-P “successes,” including the passage of the new Social Security bill and the party’s postponement to the price hike for subsidized fuels.
However, Puan said the party could do more for the people if it achieved strong election results. She called on the audience to be inspired by Bung Karno month and contribute to the party’s cause.
The PDI-P has yet to identify a strong candidate for the 2014 presidential poll. A recent survey by the Soegeng Sarjadi Syndicate found that 22 percent of respondents backed Megawati, just behind Prabowo Subianto of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra).
But Fachry Ali, a political expert from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said Megawati was losing ground. “Megawati is still supported only by those who backed her in 2009,” he said. Puan’s popularity lags her mother’s, the SSS found.
Additional reporting by Ezra Sihite & Robertus Wardi