Manifesto of the People's Democratic Party

[This manifesto was issued on July 22, 1996 at a ceremony to announce the formation of the Peoples Democratic Party. The Party tself 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 authority 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.

Oppression under the New Order

The history of the Indonesian nation is actually the history of a people's struggle, a struggle famous for its tenacity in resisting all forms of exploitation and oppression with the aim of achieving humanism and peace. However, the coming to power of the New Order regime in 1965 has meant backward steps for Indonesian society, when compared to Indonesian political life in the period of 1950-1959. Basic rights of popular participation have been shackled, limited and cut off by the implementation of the 5 political laws and the dual function of the military (ABRI). The aim of independence, that is freedom to choose, to supervise and to determine the course of the political life of a country, has moved further and further away from everyday political life. Systematically, the authorities of the New Order regime, dominate the political arena through brutal, cruel and unconstitutional methods. They do not value differences of opinion, criticism and do not want to hear the people's aspirations.

The rise of the people's resistance - that is of civilians, is greeted with intimidation, terror, arrests, jailing, bullets and even with slaughter. Newspapers, magazines, books and other tools of education which are critical and dare to differ from the point of view of the authorities are banned and closed down. Journalists who do not favour one-sided reporting of the government's point of view are sent to jail. The working class who are economically oppressed, are intimidated , terrorised and even killed. Peasants find it increasingly difficult to keep their land and defend their rights, as they are confronted by the military when they resist capitalist encroachment into their land. All these authoritarian strategies are logically employed, implemented, enacted and maintained with one aim in mind, to ensure the stability of capital accumulation.

Economic injustice

Till now, we have witnessed the widening of the gulf between the rich few and the poor majority. Workers are promoted by the Suharto dictatorship and sold cheaply to invite investment and capital accumulation for the rich. Indonesia's economic growth of more than 6% per annum is only enjoyed by a small minority group. Economic assets which are vital for the quality of life of the people are privatised with concessions traded amongst Suharto's cronies and their families. Monopolies and oligopolies that exploit the people are protected and facilitated by the powers that be. Economic hardship increases when the government is filled with corrupt people who are in collusion with bureaucrats working for private interests and their respective business groups. Imperialist organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund continue to prop up its growth by pouring in millions in the form of foreign loans. As a result, Indonesia's foreign debt has now reached US$10 billion . This means that we occupy the third highest rung on the foreign debt ladder, beneath Brazil and Mexico.

Indonesian economic development, which benefits the few owners of capital and exploitation by foreign investors in Indonesia, have resulted in a society which has become more brutal and further away from the aim of the people of reaching prosperity and justice.

The people resist

After thirty years, eight months and 22 days of the New Order government, the Indonesian people can no longer accept and tolerate this government, economically, politically or socially. There are many examples that prove this: workers are striking in many industrial estates, peasants are actively resisting eviction, students are demonstrating against militarism, intellectuals resist attempts to stifle academic freedom, indigenous people in Kalimantan and West Papua are fighting back against Jakarta's exploitation. In East Timor, the Maubere people have never stopped fighting against the military invasion and occupation by the New Order. 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 5 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.

Political reforms

The package of 5 political laws is the government's justification for limiting the people's rights to political participation. The role of political parties as a channel for the people to become involved in politics, as the birthplace of popular sovereignty, needs to be established immediately. Fair and democratic elections, those which do not limit the participation and the political aspirations of people as given rights in a modern civil society, have never existed. The structure of the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament reflect the tactics used by the regime to maintain power. Those belonging to cliques and the military have the special privileges of being appointed by Suharto and have never had to subject themselves to elections. Laws governing mass organisations do not allow them to have political affiliations and their formation is often obstructed. Lastly, laws governing referenda are such that they have never been enacted to decide important questions, for example, the appropriateness of the 1945 Constitution given the changing socio-economic and political world context. Instead the constitution has become something sacred. People who are sovereign are people who can learn about and have the opportunity and the ability to understand their sovereignty and can understand their ability to engage in politics. If we are to achieve these aims, there is no alternative but to repeal the 5 political laws of 1985.

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.

Oppose neo-colonialism:
self-determination for East Timor

Foreign economic policies should have an anti-neocolonial character, as opposed to the policies of agreements, such as those embodied in NAFTA, APEC and AFTA. International must abide by the principles of peace and humanism. For that reason, the end of the Indonesian occupation of East Timor has to be part of our political program, not merely of us extending solidarity, but of fighting alongside them for their right to determine their own destiny and to be independent. The Indonesian people's democratic struggle will not be complete and genuine unless it joins with the Maubere people's demand for independence. PRD opposes national chauvinism and considers internationalist links as the mainstay of the people's struggle. The integrated nature of global capitalist power, with the support of governments who have no respect for democracy necessitates an international resistance against it. For that reason, PRD will actively support all international forums and actions which are of a grassroots character and are opposed to oppression.

The way forward

Efforts to resist the New Order's authoritarian nature cannot be separated from the program of the PRD. As a political party, we feel we have the right and the obligation to participate in the political process to determine social and political life. The opposition to popular participation cannot be allowed to continue. In the present conditions, people's sovereignty in this system does not need legal and formal recognition from the authorities, when they don't even value the active participation of people in scrutinising and criticising it. The problems in Indonesia that are brought on by capitalism need to be resolved. This has to come about through wider involvement of the people, through democratic participation. The many forces that are capable of bringing about political improvement need to unite their programs and activities immediately to form a popular democratic government based on the grassroots.

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 inside the people themselves. Of all the potential present, 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 continuing to develop is the urban poor. Their increasing numbers and marginalised state as a result of the attractiveness of the city 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.

To unify and mobilise the existing democratic forces, a common platform is necessary, one from which we can act in unity. It is not enough for unity in action to be represented by a common program and method, it needs to also have the ability to decipher the political situation in order to force the widening of popular participation. For the sake of that momentum, we need to respond to and anticipate (the effects of ) the general elections in 1997. The elections will be a time when mass consciousness will be focused on politics, a time featuring mass mobilisations by the contestants. The democratic movement must monitor this mass consciousness, so that it can intervene and contribute towards the raising of people's awareness about the political motives of the New Order. We should not isolate ourselves from the consciousness of the masses, much less to look down upon it. 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 break 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 is popular sovereignty being taken into account in the election in order to assess the legitimacy of the election.

United front

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 5 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 structurally 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, 22 July 1996


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