The political situation of Indonesia
This article is taken from the June 2002 international edition of Pembebasan, published by the People's Democratic Party (PRD) of Indonesia.
- At the expense of the people
- A bourgeois state
- Democracy pushed back
- Form a government of the poor!
- Revolutionary democratic front of the poor
- The current situation of Megawati's government
On June 13-15, 2001, as Megawati was allying with the remnants of the New Order (Golkar and the TNI [Indonesian National Army]) as well as the Central Axis [an alliance of right-wing Muslim parties] in order to seize power, around 50,000 workers from various industrial suburbs in Bandung held a general strike in the heart of the city, demanding the abolition of new Labour Ministry regulations (No. 78 and No. 111, year 2001) on retrenchment which would have advantaged the employers. This action was coloured by clashes in the streets as the workers suffered repression from the police and military. Several worker and student activists were jailed.
At the same time, on the June 13, 10,000 workers in Jakarta and 25,000 workers from various trade unions in Medan struck with the same demands. Hundreds of thousands of workers in industrial areas in East Java (Sidoarjo, Mojokerto, Driyorejo, Tandes, and others) also spilled into the streets on June 13 with the same demands. If the workers’ rally had managed to avoid repression from the military, Surabaya would have been occupied by around 750,000 workers.
On October 3, 5000 workers from the state firm Dirgantara Indonesia Incorporated marched on the presidential palace to demand that the government clean up corruption in the management of the firm. They said that corruption was ruining them.
Throughout the months of November and December, thousands of teachers marched on government offices in Jakarta to demand payment of overdue wage increases. Meanwhile tens of thousands more protested in the regions with the same demands.
At the end of November, 5000 workers in a factory that produced Nike shoes in Tanggerang struck, demanding a wage rise and a holiday allowance of 250% of normal wages.
Near the end of the year, on December 12-14, 2000 workers from Matahari Putra Prima Incorporated from all over the Jabotabek (Jakarta-Bogor-Tanggerang-Bekasi) area struck, demanding a wage rise, food allowance and transport allowance. They marched on the firm’s office in Karawaci, Tanggerang, then went to the Labour Ministry in Jakarta. This action was marked by police violence and arrests.
At the end of December, 4000 plantation workers from state plantations in North Sumatra marched on the office of the provincial governor to demand a wage rise and protest lay-offs.
On December 26, 5000 farmers from Rawa Sekaran (Lamongan) demonstrated to oppose their eviction from their land for a local government project. Several activists were arrested.
For three days, starting from January 12, 5000 workers from Great River Indonesia Inc. conducted a total strike, demanding the payment of the Bogor municipal government’s minimum wage rate, that is 590,000 rupiah per month. They occupied the factory and marched on the Bogor municipal government office.
On January 27, around 3000 workers from the Central Java and Yogyakarta state firm Telkom marched on the presidential palace and Telkom national office to oppose the planned “asset swap” with Indosat Incorporated, another name for fuller privatisation of Telkom.
On January 29, 900 workers from the Bank Internasional Indonesia (BII) in Medan, Surabaya and Jakarta, demanded insurance, along with the replacement of the provisional management team named by BPPN (the government body charged with controlling failed banks) to manage the bank.
In mid-January, tens of thousands of workers in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, held an action at the provincial parliament demanding a wage rise. Similarly, tens of thousands of timber workers in various cities of East Kalimantan held a total strike for more than one week demanding the implementation of the provincial minimum wage. The government, through an agreement with companies, had arbitrarily reduced the level of wages that had been set previously.
Throughout the last weeks of January, thousands of people from various sectors, students, workers and urban poor, took to the streets to reject fuel price rises and price rises.
At the beginning of February, the union for KAI Incorporated (Indonesian Railways) workers in Jakarta and West Java threatened a mass strike if the government-appointed director (Omah Berto) continued to run KAI. He had a bad track record in terms of maintaining the conditions of KAI employees, including being responsible for several train accidents in 2001-2002.
On February 5, 500 representatives of Bank Commercial Asia (BCA) workers protested at the national parliament to reject the sale of BCA’s assets to foreigners, and threatened a mass strike if the sale went ahead.
On February 12, thousands of flood victims in Jakarta protested at the National Monument, demanding that Governor Setiyoso take responsibility for the disaster. Two days later, 500 poor victims of the floods protested at the presidential palace, demanding that Megawati take responsibility for the disaster.
On February 12, 500 mothers, including street-cart traders and wives of laid-off workers protested at the East Java provincial parliament in Surabaya. They protested against the rise in fuel prices and demanded that the government lower the price of goods.
On February 18, hundreds of doctors protested at the Health Department of Yogyakarta Special Region, demanding wage rises and a rise in the pension.
On March 11, BCA workers made good on their earlier strike threat by mobilising 5000 workers in Jakarta and thousands more in the regions.
Everywhere, in every corner of Indonesia, the oppressed classes are opposing anti-popular policies.
The events mentioned above are only a few examples of the rise in struggle across Indonesia opposing various economic and political policies that are increasingly anti-popular. Protest actions and mobilisations in all forms have involved workers, farmers, students and urban poor who have organised to defend themselves from violent attacks and policies that have caused their poverty and unemployment. The Central Statistics Bureau estimates that around eighty million people were living below the poverty line in 1998. Indeed, the World Bank itself has stated that the number of poor in Indonesia, according to the standard international poverty line—under US$2 a day—is sixty per cent of the population, or around 122 million people. These two statements are only figures; the reality of the people’s lives in poverty can be better felt directly by activist comrades who work side by side with the people.
At the beginning of this year, the Megawati-Hamzah regime began a project which will plunge the people into more extreme poverty. On January 1, the basic electricity rate was raised by twenty-four per cent and will be raised again by five to seven per cent every three months, so that in a year the basic electricity rate will rise by forty per cent. And on January 16, the price of fuel also rose by twenty-nine per cent. Furthermore, at the beginning of February, telephone rates rose (15%), railway fares (30%) and Jakarta transport fares (25-30%). These various subsidy cuts have caused rises in the prices of other goods and services. For example, the price of building materials has risen by more than ten per cent, medicine by ten to twenty per cent and manufactured goods by ten per cent. These prices rises must be contrasted with the fact that the provincial minimum wage of Jakarta has risen by only thirty per cent, to 591,000 rupiah, while the minimum basic needs of a worker in Jakarta in 2000, before counting the price rises mentioned above, were more than 800,000 rupiah. Indeed, the wage rise of thirty per cent has not been implemented by many capitalists, and those who haven’t implemented it have suffered no punishments from the Megawati-Hamzah regime.
How can the Megawati-Hamzah regime be this criminal? Firstly, while this government and the imperialists (through their puppets the IMF, World Bank, WTO, and agents within the Indonesian state) manage the nation’s economic affairs, the excesses which have emerged only obscure the horror of prolonged poverty. Public debt has reached around 110 per cent of GDP. In the 2002 national budget, more than thirty per cent of state funds are to be used to pay this debt and bank recapitalisation bonds. Almost all new borrowings, and half of foreign exchange earnings from exports, are used to pay the debts of the leader of the New Order and the conglomerates of his corrupt cronies. Meanwhile, in 2001 the burden of payments on the debt, plus interest, had reached 89.2 trillion rupiah, out of total state spending of 295.1 trillion rupiah. In the 2002 budget, the debt repayment figure has reached more than 100 trillion rupiah.
Secondly, with a state debt (both internal and foreign) of around 1,401 trillion rupiah, without debt relief the state will be paying off its debt until judgment day. The impact on the budget has been made worse by the drop in the oil price and the world economic crisis, even though Indonesia’s economic policies are more oriented to exports, particularly exports to the US, Japan, the EU and Singapore. Once again, without the abolition of the foreign debt and nationalisation of corrupt officials’ and crony conglomerates’ assets, social welfare payments will increasingly shrink. As an example, the education sector’s portion of the budget for the year 2000 was less than one per cent of GDP. One year before, it had been cut by thirty per cent. In 2000, 2.1 million pupils were unable to finish their compulsory nine years of schooling. That was 528,000 more than in 1998, when 1,562,000 children dropped out of school, and 902,000 more than in 1997, when “only” 1,198,000 dropped out.
State and private banks with problems, which have an enormous debt, stand on the brink of a precipice, just waiting for a push to fall into a greater disaster. Private capital has continued to go offshore, made easier by the liberalisation of foreign exchange rules. According to the deputy governor of the Bank of Indonesia, Anwar Nasution, from 1997 to 2001 capital flight reached $10 billion per year on average.
The value of the rupiah, which strengthened because of the psychological factor of middle class ignorance and the influence of the mass media when Megawati replaced Gus Dur, has begun to fall from the 8000s per dollar to the 10,000s. The drop in the rupiah’s value is due to pressure to slow the rate of foreign debt repayment, and the drop in domestic savings from twenty-eight per cent to seventeen per cent of GDP. It can be guaranteed that the rupiah will always plummet when there is a slowing in payment of foreign debt (which according to Bank Indonesia in 2002 is about $20 billion). The government always dreams that the exchange value of the rupiah will strengthen as long as there is confidence from the markets. However, it is truly delusional to think the rupiah will strengthen without debt relief and foreign exchange controls. The balance of trade, which is always said to be in surplus, is nothing but a figure on paper. The fact is that many export earnings never enter Indonesia to strengthen national currency reserves. Most of these exchange earnings are parked in advanced capitalist countries’ banks, such as in Singapore.
The growth of domestic investment has completely stopped. The figure of four per cent growth is almost completely from the consumption sector, and is driven by the sale of poor people’s goods (to repeat, the poor are selling their belongings) and government spending. As there are no signs of change in this situation, the majority of what is left of the Indonesian private sector is merely crony companies that grew on the basis of foreign debt during the Suharto government, and since the crisis these have been unable to use government facilities as they used to do. The debt of these corporations to banks must be counted again, and the government must allocate more loan funds to guard against the collapse of the banks, which are bleeding out credit. The incapacity of the bourgeois powerholders (Megawati-Hamzah) means they are pressuring the debtor conglomerates to become sources of funding for the bourgeois parties themselves, leading to many kinds of new subsidies. This is the material basis for the government’s extension of time and reduction of interest rates for PKPS (shareholders’ compulsory payments). The scandal of the discount sale of PT Indomobil (also BCA) has spread the smell of corruption everywhere. Indomobil, one of the assets of the Salim conglomerate, which was seized by the government to pay Salim’s debt of 52 trillion rupiah, was valued at 2.5 trillion rupiah when it was handed over to BPPN (the government body that handles failed banks and corporations to prepare them for resale), but was sold by BPPN for only 625 billion rupiah.
The government’s other option is to allow these banks and corporations to hit the wall, declare them bankrupt and sell them cheaply to whoever wants to buy (without racial or national discrimination). At the moment, only foreign firms are capable of buying them, even at low prices. If that takes place, then almost all of the modern sector of Indonesia’s economy will be in the hands of multinational companies (which, to repeat, will have paid low prices). Many of the people’s assets, both BUMN (formerly private firms now under state management) and BPPN, have changed hands and are now owned by capitalists—international capitalists, of course. This action is carried out by Megawati and the conservative small bourgeois around her, who are looking for profit amidst the tug-of-war between the interests of the old national bourgeoisie and the multinational corporations. This crime is shown clearly in the case of the sale of BCA, whose total assets are valued at ninety-nine trillion rupiah, around 60.1 trillion rupiah of which are subsidised recapitalisation bonds provided by the government, so that every year the government will have to pay interest of around eight to nine trillion rupiah. Meanwhile, fifty-one per cent of the shares will be sold—with despicable manipulation that cannot be justified from any perspective—for at most six trillion rupiah, and this without withdrawing from the obligations of the recapitalisation bonds of 60.1 trillion rupiah. Although justified with many nonsensical economic reasons, these cases explain the criminal collusion between the imperialists’ tools the IMF (which exerts pressure by way of letters of intent) and the World Bank, and the Megawati regime (with its cronies) in grabbing the greatest profit from buying the people’s assets at low prices.
These scenarios—a constant increase in debt or the bankrupting of the banks and companies currently in trouble—will push the people into a deeper economic crisis. Indonesia has a population of more than 200 million; between thirty and forty per cent of the people are unemployed or hidden unemployed. Meanwhile, the work force grows by two to three million people per year. Indonesia needs economic growth of eight per cent per year—an impossible figure in the current situation—just to absorb this growth in the work force. There is no chance of reducing the number of unemployed with these increasingly insane economic policies. The threat of a rise in unemployment is increasingly real with the sluggishness of the world market because of the drop in the purchasing power of the people of advanced capitalist countries, which are the destination of Indonesia’s exports. For example, world textile production is twenty per cent higher than demand. The USA, which talks about free trade most vehemently, has protected its domestic industry by placing an embargo on foreign textile products. Thus textile companies will have to reduce their productive capacity, leading to mass retrenchments. According to the Association of Textile and Shoe Companies of Indonesia, this year around 600,000 workers are threatened with being thrown onto the street as unemployed. Retrenchment isn’t taking place only in the textile industry, but has also spread to other industrial sectors and service industries such as shoes, electronics, food and beverages, timber and forestry, plantations and various kinds of mining (the retrenchments at Timah Incorporated, for example).
So far it has been the poor—workers, peasants and urban poor—who have been forced to carry the heaviest burden, and they will pay even more if the crisis worsens. However, this situation is a green light for the power-holders of the capitalist class. In the words of one analyst: “Many of those who toppled the Suharto dictatorship were young people. They hoped for a better life. If they get the opposite, the result will be a social explosion.” And now, the people are truly suffering hell.
Under the Megawati regime, this economic disaster has proceeded side by side with a political retreat: the democratic rights of the people have started to be restricted again. Arrests of activists have taken place everywhere, for example the arrest of the head of the Jember and Bondowoso PRD, the arrest of the head of the East Java PRD, the arrest of worker and student activists in Bandung (also in Jakarta, Aceh, Semarang, Medan, Palu, etc.) in Papua (indeed, the murder of Theys, one of the Papuan leaders). Greater authority has been given to the military, for example the setting up of a military command (Kodam) in Aceh. Thus, areas of conflict like Aceh, Papua, Maluku, Poso and others have become a shooting range for the TNI’s terrible project.
Cases of human rights violations have not been investigated to conclusion, thanks to Megawati. The formation of a human rights court for East Timor was only a ruse, because it has not so much as touched the generals who are most responsible. Indeed the DPR/MPR (parliament), just as corrupt as the government, has stated that the shooting of students at Trisakti and of students and masses at Semanggi in 1998-99 are not serious human rights violations. Whenever there is pressure from the masses on these issues, junior soldiers are made scapegoats. Everyone knows that these soldiers acted on the orders of their generals.
These events have been made possible by two things. Firstly, Megawati gained power by way of a reactionary alliance between PDI-P [Indonesian Democratic Party—Struggle, Megawati’s party], Golkar, the TNI and police and the Central Axis in parliament. Of course Megawati must pay the price demanded by these forces. The payment includes not trying cases of human rights violations, giving some power to the remnants of the New Order, not trying to conclusion the Buloggate II corruption case involving Akbar Tanjung and Golkar, not trying to conclusion corrupt officials and other New Order conglomerates. From the beginning, Megawati was given the choice of working with the people to destroy the power of the remnants of the New Order, or oppressing the people as a consequence of an alliance with those remnants. Megawati has chosen: she has allied with the remnants of the New Order.
Secondly, the increasingly disastrous economic crisis cannot be overcome with economic or political concessions to the people. The pressure of the crisis and Megawati’s conservative nature mean there will be no political or economic concessions. Megawati prefers to cut the people’s subsidies, causing a rise in electricity and fuel prices, transport fares and telephone rates, etc; add military command structures (Kodam) and raise the level of repression to stifle protests.
With the rise in intensity of anti-poor economic policies, there is also an increasing tendency to restrict democratic rights. With a conservative petty bourgeois background, Megawati—like Hamzah Haz, Amien Rais, Yusril Ihza Mahendra and the other fake reformers, including those waiting for a chance at power—has been advancing the interests of the section of the bourgeoisie closest to her ever since Suharto fell. However, in the struggle to defeat the New Order dictatorship, this bourgeois group was the most cowardly. Currently Megawati represents the true bourgeoisie. The application of the IMF-demanded policies has failed. Megawati has failed, as can be seen by the rise in poverty, unemployment, the numbers forced to drop out of school, the floods and their impact, and repression. Who knows how long the Indonesian people will remain in the nightmare of poverty if the Megawati government stays in power? It’s untrue to say that the Megawati government hasn’t been given enough time, because however long she is given, her concept of development is anti-people and cannot be justified theoretically. Thus, there is no alternative but to replace the Megawati government.
The Megawati regime has responded to national liberation in Aceh and Papua with murder: Theys in Papua and intellectuals and civilians in Aceh. The democratic demands of the Acehnese and Papuans can be held back less and less; they are showing clear expressions of opposition to New Order nationalism. This began with mass meetings of tens of thousands, angry over the murder of Theys, from the end of November to the beginning of December 2001, and the general strike in Aceh January 15-17, 2002.
After failing to suppress the movement in Aceh and Papua by military actions, Megawati’s regime starts to sell its narrow-minded nationalism in the hope of getting support from the people. This is an unpardonable, malicious manipulation: poor people, unemployed and starving, are being forced to consume bloody New Order nationalism. The added burden of the people is paying for military operations that cost hundreds of millions of rupiah, sacrificing the lower ranks and thousands of civilians in both regions. Poor people in the entire archipelago do not benefit at all, but instead are being hurt, by the military operations of TNI in those regions. Retaining Aceh and Papua by force supports the interests of the Indonesian capitalist regime, which, hand in hand with the imperialists, continues the exploitation of the natural resources and people of Aceh; it also supports the interest of the TNI generals in securing economic access and greater political supremacy. So, it was not surprising when the governments of developed countries approved the establishment of Kodam in Aceh. Then, to cover up their evil interests they use nationalism, what the regime calls “the unity and totality of the nation”. That is what narrow-minded nationalism is.
At present, the demand for the democratic right of self-determination (read: referendum) has become the political choice of the people of Aceh and Papua. Meanwhile the bourgeoisie, with their fangs of repression, put all their effort into retaining Aceh and Papua as a field for accumulating as much capital as possible. Top military officials are being presented to the public as the sole spokespersons in Aceh and Papua, to create the image that what is happening there is purely a problem of “security disruption”, so that the solution must involve militarism.
Historically, the oppressed people of the archipelago, under the leadership of the youth, united against Dutch colonialism with the aim of establishing a free nation-state of Indonesia based on free choice. At that time, the basis of unity was: one language, one nation, one state against the main enemy, Dutch colonialism, without any military compulsion. In this second wave of revolution—democratic revolution opposing the dictatorship of the New Order/bourgeoisie—it appears that the basis of unity has similarities as well as obvious differences.
Today, the main enemy is global capitalism. The unity needed is not only from Sabang to Merauke, but also extending to the Asian people, Third World people, or even the people of the imperialist countries themselves. Nationalisation or the monitoring of foreign and domestic conglomerates with foreign partners will be one of the universal necessities that require the existence of strong and organised workers and peasants.
The principle of free choice in uniting the people of the archipelago was a result of the historical process of a national liberation movement resisting Dutch colonialism, but it must be preserved by the revolutionary movement in Indonesia. Besides, we face the reality that nationalist movements in Aceh and Papua have arisen based on workers, peasants, and other oppressed people. The nationalist movements of Acehnese and Papuan people are an expression of resistance to New Order nationalism, which is enforced by weapons and followed by unlimited exploitation. Indonesian nationalism had been destroyed by New Order oppression, contrary to the ideals of the national liberation revolution. This means that there is another possibility for various forms of unity, different from the national unity established in 1945, including even unity in the form of an inter-state alliance. Of course, it can happen only if the movements/revolution in the entire archipelago succeed in establishing a government of the poor—because the revolution to establish a government of the poor means developing voluntary unity (in any form of unity) to advance the interests of the poor.
Because free choice is the principle for the unity of nations, our stance is clear: the solution to the problem of nationality must be democratic. The right of the Aceh and Papua people to determine their own future must be guaranteed. It is theirs to decide, freely, whether to unite with the Republic of Indonesia, to acquire autonomy, federation, commonwealth, etc., or to stand on their own as a free nation. The military must be withdrawn from Aceh and Papua, and referendums under the supervision of international peace institutions are the democratic and bloodless way out.
The experience of four years since the fall of Suharto showed that bourgeois government is unable to put an end to the crisis. They have failed to create welfare for the people; even worse, they made agreements with the imperialists to impoverish the people. They are unable to open up a democratic space because of their unwillingness to remove all remnants of the New Order (which is anti-democracy) from political and economic control. Under bourgeois government, all economic potential and natural wealth are controlled by a handful of people (local, national, as well as foreign) to serve the interests of a handful of people. Because of that, the means available to create wealth for the people are sabotaged and consumed without the people being able to control it, much less stop it. They also voluntarily collaborate with the evil remnants of the New Order to gain profit for themselves and thus hurt the majority of oppressed people. More and more the country is becoming the tool of the bourgeoisie, not the property of the poor. Therefore, all policies of the Megawati-Hamzah regime are truly hurting the people, and benefiting the class interests of the bourgeoisie.
Because of that, the mass of people in this country must start to realise that their power of resistance, demonstrated in a host of struggles, has the potential to replace the Megawati government with a government that is free from imperialist interests and New Order remnants. Therefore, the Government of the Poor is the answer: a government consisting of the democratic elements of workers, peasants, students, urban poor, and other oppressed people who agree to defend the interests of the poor, and which must be built from the level of RT (neighbourhood gathering), RW (citizen gathering), kelurahan/desa (village), kecamatan (district), kabupaten/kotamadya (state region/city), propinsi/wilayah (province/territory), to the national level. Every person who sits in the government is elected democratically by the people. These oppressed classes will run daily state affairs. It will work on a program that can create changes in accordance with the needs of society and the development of civilisation.
Proceeding from the above reality, we can list some problems or important issues that have become topics of daily conversation among the mass of people and demands that reflect their daily concerns. The economic demands, among others, are: Decrease prices! Increase wages/salaries 100%! Reject the rise of fuel and electricity prices! Arrest, put on trial, and confiscate the properties of the corrupt to subsidise the people! Jobs for the people! In politics, the demands of the people are: Ad hoc courts for corruption cases! Arrest and trial of human rights violators! Reject the draft anti-terrorism legislation!
As a concrete example, we can learn from the 1978 Afghan revolution, which immediately implemented programs to benefit the people, including a radical land reform, religious freedom, recognition of the rights of minority nationalities, universal elementary education and gender equality. Price monitoring of the goods for basic needs started to be implemented in markets; the price of bread was cut in half; working hours were reduced and low-paid workers received a raise; trade unions were legalised.
Above, this article showed the imperialists’ role in impoverishing the Indonesian people and the people of other underdeveloped countries. Therefore, international solidarity to resist global capitalism has to become our struggle principle. The general problems and people’s demands have become the demands of the people in the developed countries themselves: Abolition of the IMF and World Bank! Cancellation of poor countries’ foreign debts! Reject neo-liberal policies!
People’s problems are related in many ways to problems of class or oppressed social groups. For example, in the student sector it is logical if students start to demand free education for the people and reject the commercialisation of education. In the labour sector, workers struggle to: stop lay-offs, reject privatisation, raise wages 100 per cent; in the peasant sector: easy credit, cheap modern technology, marketing insurance, land to the tiller; and for the people as a whole: form the government of the poor!
After the recent natural disasters, the important things needed by the urban poor are: cheap and hygienic housing, clean water, rejection of evictions, and cheap health facilities. These fundamental problems currently being faced by the urban poor even become the fundamental problems of the people as a whole. In relation to national liberation in Aceh and Papua, the problems that must first be taken up by the people of Aceh and Papua are: referendums for the people of Aceh and Papua; reject Kodam in Aceh; withdraw troops from Aceh and Papua; try the generals who violate human rights in Aceh and Papua.
From the whole chain of events described, it is clear that the role of women cannot be pushed to one side. In many workers’ actions, women tower over the others. Therefore, it is necessary to reject any discrimination— economic, social, or political—against women. Only a government that can implement such programs will be able to solve all kinds of people’s problem, a task at which Megawati’s government has failed.
The possibility of progress of the people’s movement (workers, peasants, students, and urban poor) is increasingly showing itself. Mass actions have been launched by various layers and social classes: from workers, peasants, students, urban poor, unemployed, peddlers, to expressions of dissatisfaction from low-ranking policemen and middle officers. Mass actions are no longer taboo in the eyes of the people. People’s anger is found everywhere, and the way to defend and win their rights is through mass action.
Mass organisations are starting to be established, both spontaneously and by progressive elements in a well-planned manner. Fifty-nine national-level trade unions are registered in the Labour Department office. Meanwhile, 40,000 plant-level trade unions have been established. Since early January, as a response to the flood disaster, especially in Jakarta, there have been built hundreds of flood command posts (posko), which, besides organising emergency help for flood victims, are also moving to demand political responsibility from Megawati and the Jakarta local government for their failure to anticipate the flood or deal with its effects, as well as for government policies that destroy the environment and cause flooding. Poor people in other cities have done the same thing. Trishaw (becak) drivers and peddlers, who have always been the target of the government apparatus, have formed their own resistance organisations—not only in Jakarta, but also in other cities. Peasants, who during the New Order were confined within HKTI, the state peasant union, have now found reserves that are more suitable and militant in struggling for their interests.
The social upheaval is like a wave that cannot be stopped any more, and the increasing quality of the popular resistance demands to be immediately united. Every act of resistance that manifests dissatisfaction with the conditions created by the bourgeois system is a source of revolutionary energy. The form of unity is the building of fronts among the oppressed classes. These fronts play the role of accumulating all economic and political dissatisfaction with the anti-democratic and anti-people policies of the regime. Sectoral organisations can unite into sectoral fronts, and subsequently unite with other sectors. It is by uniting the entire popular democratic forces into a united front that a government of the poor—which is the most progressive aspect of the front—will become a reality.
Nonetheless, the mass of people must understand the means. First, the mass of people must start to realise that their current enemy is the bourgeois class, which misuses the state for its own interest. Its interest is to accumulate wealth and crush the working class as well as the mass of people generally. As a result, the mass of people in this country are undergoing a staggering process of impoverishment both because of neo-liberal policies and natural disasters that result from arbitrary capitalist exploitation, made worse by the fact that Megawati’s government is unable to resist international capitalism driven by the IMF and the World Bank, which destroy the livelihood of most people in this country and in other underdeveloped countries. Because of that, workers’ resistance must start to be directed toward resisting Megawati’s government, and then against the IMF and World Bank. It is also necessary to develop resistance to the military force that always protects the bourgeois class, protects Megawati’s government, and is now becoming the hand of the imperialists.
Second, the ideas that have been explained above must be spread through various forms, including flyers, graffiti, and other agitation-propaganda forms.
Third, these ideas must be internalised through discussions in various places where masses of people gather, and in this case, the working class must start to initiate discussions outside the workplace.
Fourth, the fighting masses of people—whether students, urban poor, or other masses—must be pushed to carry out political activity more openly by building command posts (posko) to help the people in the entire sections of cities where the masses of people gather.
Fifth, posko activities, among others, are: to hold open discussions, distribute flyers, set up action committees, and build public kitchens for the victims of natural disasters, lay-offs, military repression and evictions.
Sixth, posko activities must involve large masses of people to be able to defend themselves from reactionary force, on one side, and to build working structures and political leadership structures of the most embryonic form, on the other side.
Seventh, posko activities are the reservoir of the mass of people’s consciousness of resistance and must be able to combine with the results of political work of the working class, which must be brought into the places where masses of people gather.
Eighth, a strong communication network must be built among poskos so that there are meetings between posko representatives on a territorial basis.
Ninth, working-class activities that have started to draw the people to fight in the places where masses of people gather must be welcomed by the poskos, so that there will be general meetings, general gatherings etc.
Tenth, all the above activities are an illustration of the path to revolution that must be built within a regional level.
The signs of the destruction of Megawati’s government arise from the distinct characteristics of the Indonesian bourgeoisie: ambivalent, cowardly, and opportunistic. Therefore, it will not be able to face the threatening contradictions. Three things will not be able to be solved by Megawati’s government:
1. The people’s demands: first, the way out from the worsening crisis of the people’s welfare—due to the rise of prices, cuts of subsidies, unemployment, etc; second: rejecting the selling of state companies that, evidently, reduce the living standards of the people; third (and, this will prove whether Megawati is a reformer or fake) the immediate eradication of New Order remnants (including conglomerates, the army’s dual military and civil role, and other crimes against humanity, corruption, collusion, nepotism).
2. The demands of international capitalism—through its IMF and World Bank—to sell this nation (state companies and their assets) as soon as possible at the lowest possible price.
3. The demand for the replacement of Megawati’s government comes from two camps—the fake reformist camp (the most despicable and opportunistic is Amien Rais) and the progressive camp (in this case, the best popular program is the one being fought for by the PRD). The military, in this situation, tries to raise its bargaining power with Megawati because they believe that only the military is capable of overcoming the opposition; and if the fake reformist opposition get stronger, they will offer a deal to that opposition because the military will choose to support the political power that will most accommodate their will. As usual, the fake reformists will not hesitate to work with the military. <