Subject: Munir Case A Measure For Presidential Candidates Commitment To Reform [+Regeneration]

also: Voters want regeneration of political leadership - Survey

Kompas October 17, 2007

Solving Munir case a measure of candidates commitment to reform

Jakarta -- There is a strong possibly that a commitment to solve the murder of human rights activist Munir will be sought from political parties or presidential and vice presidential candidates who will participate in the 2009 general elections. This is because their stand on the case will be one measure of the credibility of the respective candidates or parties, particularly in the area of human rights.

"We will seek a commitment to solve the Munir murder case from those who come forward in the 2009 general elections. We will take note, evaluate and socialise their responses to the case", said Choirul Anam, the legal adviser to Munir's family, when contacted by Kompas in Jakarta on Tuesday October 16.

According to Anam, the offer is being made because uncovering the murder that took place on September 7, 2004 could become an important part of measuring the commitment of election participants in the process of democratic reform.

Anam went on to say that the offer will also be made because there is a strong possibility that this case will not be fully solved in the lead up to the elections. This is because it is most likely that the court hearing of former Garuda Indonesia Airlines Executive Director Indra Setiawan, which is currently taking place at the Central Jakarta District Court, will end late this year or in early 2008. Whereas it is certain that Setiawan is not the principle perpetrator in the murder so in order to uncover the case there is a possibility that police will have to find other suspects.

Critical attitude

Separately, the coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Usman Hamid said that a number of social organisations will be campaigning more intensively on Munir's murder, so it is hoped that more members of the public will take a critical attitude towards candidates in the elections that may try to politicise the case.

This politicisation, among other things, may be done by making high-sounding promises to solve the Munir murder or other cases of human rights violations. Whereas at the same time -- according to Hamid -- there are a number of parties who are suspected of being involved in the murder who will use the elections to wash their hand of the affair or seek protection.

"We must anticipate politicisation which has a negative impact on the Munir murder case during the general elections. Because it is very likely that this politicisation will occur, because in order to attract the public's support, a number of parties will use issues that are attractive such as the Munir case. The case is also exists within a larger political matrix", said Hamid. (NWO)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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Kompas October 15, 2007

Voters want regeneration of political leadership - Survey

Sultani -- The Indonesian public's attention of late has been focused on the actions and maneuvering of political figures who want to nominate themselves as presidential candidates for the 2009 presidential elections. Goodwill meetings between individuals and open declarations are the medium being used by these figures to increase their popularity.

Aside from the activities of individual political figures, the political parties have also been holding actions to mobilise their forces, both internally as well as coalitions with other parties. The event "A National Goodwill Meeting of Golkar and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P)" in June was as if to demonstrate the strategy being taken by the two largest parties to solidify and consolidate their membership in the lead up to the 2009 general elections.

Political "sounding out" by individual figures as well as political parties are already visible. Goodwill forums, which bring together presidential candidates and other social figures are an effective means by which to sell an image and at the same time jack up their popularity. Open forums such as declarations have also been held to sell ideas directly to the public. The political parties meanwhile have been quietly "waging guerrilla warfare" by approaching potential figures who could be nominated as a presidential or vice presidential candidates.

Competition heating up

This phenomena illustrates that political competition has already started to heat up with the several figures who have openly declared that they are ready to contest the highest position in the country. This also gives more opportunities to the public to appraise and evaluate their capacity before deciding on their final choice. The currently liveliness of the contest also indicates a new enthusiasm where the public is involved beforehand in the process of national succession.

Out of the names that have currently entered the contest as presidential candidates the majority are dominated by old figures, who were once or are still state officials. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Vice President Jusuf Kalla and former Presidents Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri are some of the names that have entered into the nomination count as presidential candidates. Other name that have surfaced include Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengku Buwono X, former Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso and former 2004 presidential candidate Wiranto. Finally there are new and young figures such as National Mandate Party (PAN) chairperson Soetrisno Bachir and Din Syamsuddin, the general chairperson of the Islamic mass organisation Muhammadiyah.

Several of them have already declared that they will step forward to struggle for the presidency. Although in fact these declarations are still seen by the public as being too soon, it is also appreciated by the public.

This survey revealed that being the chairperson of a political party does not apparently guarantee the support of voters. Only PDI-P voters explicitly said that they want their general chairperson, Megawati, to step forward as a 2009 presidential candidate. Megawati is considered a suitable candidate by 76.4 percent of her supports to reappear on this, the most prestigious political arena. Few National Awakening Party (PKB) voters however gave their support to Abdurrahman Wahid, the founder and at the same time chairperson of the party's advisory board. Only around 47 percent of voters consider it appropriate for the former president to again appear as a presidential candidate.

The Golkar Party is different from the two above parties with regard to the current contest. Although garnering the most votes in the 2004 general elections (21.57 percent), party supporters have not immediately given their full support to their general chairperson to step forward on to the presidential nomination stage. Currently, only 54.3 percent of Golkar voters see Jusuf Kalla as being suitable to become the candidate for the number one position in the country. The low level of support by party members for their general chairpersons is also the case for PAN's general chairperson, Soetrisno Bachir, who only received the blessing of 39.5 percent of the party's voters.

Sultan Hamengku Buwono X

Aside from figures with a basis in political parties, individual nominations have also received the appreciation of the political parties. Hamengku Buwono, who has already been approached by PAN and several other Islamic parties, also turns out to have be favoured by these party's voters. Fifty-eight percent of PAN voters believe that Hamengku Buwono's nomination is appropriate while 52.9 percent of PKB voters believe that he should become a presidential candidate.

Figures that do not yet have a political vehicle find it rather hard to jack up their popularity among already established figures. Sutiyoso appears to have his own method of informing the public of his intention to nominate himself as a candidate. Through a declaration held on October 2, Sutiyoso challenged the political parties to evaluate him and the achievements that he made while in office, both in the military as well as in civil life.

This method appears to have helped him jack up his popularity. In a survey conducted in September, Sutiyoso was only considered appropriate as a candidate by 28.2 percent of respondents. Since declaring his nomination, the public has become better aquatinted with him and in this survey 43.7 percent of respondents said that Sutiyoso is a suitable candidate for the 2009 elections.

Not shaken yet

Although several challengers had declared that they will contest the 2009 elections, President Yudhoyono's popularity has still not been shaken. Yudhoyono is still seen as suitable to lead the nation by 75.7 percent of respondents. Moreover, two out of three respondents from the Democrat Party want Yudhoyono to come forward as a presidential candidate in 2009. Meanwhile the presidential elections were held today, although only 48.8 percent of respondents said they would vote for him, this is still three time more than the number of votes for Megawati.

The domination of old figures was still strong in this survey. Whereas respondents said that ideally they would like a regeneration of the leadership from old figures to new and younger ones, as was revealed by 46 percent of the respondents that were involved in the September Kompas survey. Indeed, it is time for the mechanisms for the election of the president to be reviewed in order to give a greater opportunity to individual presidential candidates to appear on the battle field. (Kompas Research and Development)

[Slightly abridged translated by James Balowski.]

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