|Home > South-East Asia >> Indonesia|
Manifesto of the PRD
[This manifesto was issued on July 22, 1996 at a ceremony to announce the formation of the Peoples Democratic Party. The Party was formally founded at a congress in April, 1996. The PRD had previously existed as the Peoples Democratic Union, which was established in 1994. Following this manifesto, we also publish excerpts from documents adopted at the April congress.]
There is no democracy in Indonesia. Democracy, meaning people's sovereignty, should be the basic principle and foundation for the formation of any state. As long as this sovereignty has not been given its rightful place in the political, economic and cultural life of a nation and people, history will continue to throw up resistance.
The state during the 30 years of Suharto has become an institution which shackles and obstructs the opportunity for the development of popular participation in the process of determining social and political life. Executive power has become enlarged, is oppressive, uncontrollable and overrides the authority of the legislature and the judiciary.
Indonesian economic development which benefits the few owners of capital and exploitation by foreign investors has resulted in a society which has become more brutal and further away from the aim of the people of reaching prosperity and justice.
Forms of resistance taken up by the people continue to increase -- from mass actions, where many sectors of the population work together, occupying Parliament, invading police and military headquarters, confronting the military to mass production of leaflets. The essence is this: popular dissatisfaction is everywhere. The people are no longer content to live under the New Order regime. The socio-economic and political system now that is safeguarded by the regime has proven to be unable to articulate, let alone resolve the concrete problem faced by the people.
The current system is bankrupt. This is the time for the five political laws to be repealed and the time for the military, currently sheltering under the dual function of ABRI doctrine, to return to the barracks.
The military encroaches on civil life. In a modern society civilians who don't carry weapons should have absolute control over the military, turning the military into the "giant mute". (to borrow the French term La Grande Muette). Not one word on power or politics should be communicated through the barrel of a gun. Therefore, the people have to demand the repeal of the Dual Function of the ABRI doctrine.
The subordination of the New Order regime to the world capitalist system means that the Suharto government has been unable to escape from international scrutiny over the oppression which exists in this country. The fall of authoritarian regimes in Latin America, Africa and Asia has taught the regime and the democratic movement that no authoritarian power can last forever. Everything has its end, just as it has its beginning.
A government that is democratic and people-oriented needs to have a clear vision for the future for the Indonesian people. It needs to have a clear vision of the way out of the economic, social and political problems we have, problems which have existed for 30 years, eight months and twenty days. To achieve clarity in direction towards a democratic society, we need to seek the forces from the people who have the strength to push towards this goal. Because of this, questions of strategy and tactics need to be formulated based on the potential existing among the people themselves. Of all the potential, we see the resistance put up by workers as the most significant potential force that will be harnessed and organised into the democratic struggle. Their increasing numbers, their continuing fightback and their strategic position in the capitalist system of the New Order will make the working class a stronghold for democracy now and in the future.
The second strength we see is that of students and intellectuals. This social layer have become the pioneers in the political resistance against the New Order. Their ideological, organisational and political ability are important contributions to the democratic struggle. The adventurism of the students' movement and the resulting loss of power of organised students, can only be avoided if it is linked in with the people's democratic struggle as a whole.
The third proven force that is still developing is the urban poor. Their increasing numbers, marginalised state and the uneven development between city and countryside form the basis of the urban masses. In actions supporting Megawati, we can see how this sector militantly and tenaciously defended their rights. The last sector that is also important is the peasant sector. Brutal capitalism has impoverished them and robbed them of their land which is their means of subsistence. It is not surprising that it is this sector, who are spread throughout Indonesia in large numbers, which will be an important supporting force in the democratic movement.
We have an opportunity to take advantage of the coming elections. A tool for organising and broadening the opposition networks and taking advantage of the elections, is through the formation of KIPP (independent election monitoring committee). KIPP is intended not only for monitoring the elections but to assist in raising the consciousness of the people around their daily problems. KIPP has already become popular. Because of that, we expect that KIPP can assist in breaking the illusions of the masses and can be used to campaign to educate and mobilise the people to say that the issue of elections is related to the issue of people's sovereignty. This sovereignty will always be related to the five political laws of 1985 and dual function of ABRI. That is where KIPP should be anchored. KIPP should not just be a concept merely for the monitoring of the election process from voter registration to vote counting. Instead, it should monitor how far popular sovereignty is being taken into account in the election in order to assess the legitimacy of the election.
The most important and urgent step that must be taken is to create a united front based on a common platform to reach strategic aims ultimately designed to achieve popular sovereignty. These strategic aims would include the repeal of the five political laws and the dual function of ABRI. This front must have its roots deeply in the masses or it cannot exist and will never grow strong. Because of this, the type of organisations inside a front must be at the level of political parties or mass organisations. A front for struggle that is serious and genuine must have programs, tactics and strategies and slogans that are based in the masses. A front is a body to mobilise the masses, not a vehicle for campaigning on political issues. Previously we had not realised the meaning of "political front" and could not differentiate between an "action committee" and a "political front". In future, we need to build a democratic political front and this needs to be done as soon as possible. There is no point maintaining the existence of an organisation if it cannot understand and resolve the strategic issues under the New Order.
PRD considers that a front that is supported by the masses needs to be built. As long as these mass "pockets" have not been mobilised into the democratic struggle, this front will be incapable of confronting the militaristic and domineering power of the New Order.
With all the problems of Indonesian society we have looked at above, we should also be able to envisage and articulate what a future democratic society might look like. PRD considers that it is more important to come up with political solutions to ease the way towards economic solutions for the problems of an Indonesia that has been exploited in a wholesale manner under capitalism. PRD sees that it is important in the future to build a modern civil society that respects popular sovereignty and institutionalises democratic practices with their own legislative, executive and judicial structures. The structures of true democracy must be subservient to the sovereignty of the people. For that reason, a popular democratic coalition government must be created for the future, in order to channel the aspirations of the people. This channelling of aspirations needs to be able to respect various ideologies and their respective methods without military intervention.
The development of a modern civil society in Indonesia that is based on popular sovereignty will depend on how we build a democratic movement now. Strategy and tactics need to be formulated now with the concrete state of the people in mind. Because of that, PRD believes and is confident that the organising of the masses is the only way to bring about popular sovereignty. The founding of the PRD is one manifestation of and an answer to the dysfunction of extra parliamentary institutions. Its formation also aims to provide a clear goal for the people's struggle, towards a multiparty and peace-loving popular democratic society.
Jakarta, July 22, 1996