Jakarta – A politician widely viewed as a leading figure in the 1998 reformation movement that overthrew the New Order regime has come under criticism by human rights activists following speculation that his National Mandate Party (PAN) will soon form a coalition with the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra).
Amien Rais, chairman of PAN’s advisory board, had contradicted his own label as a reformation figure by supporting Prabowo Subianto, said Setara Institute deputy director Bonar Tigor Naipospos. Prabowo is a former army general who is allegedly behind several cases of human rights abuses during the reformation era and is running for the presidency this year for Gerindra.
Bonar said that Amien has now turned into a full-fledged practicing politician and that his days as a figure in Indonesia’s political scene are long gone.
“Maybe human rights issues are not [Amien’s] priorities. We remain far from implementing civilized politics in this country,” Bonar said on Sunday. “I’m actually not too surprised by this. Amien Rais was not the driving force of the reformation movement, he was just smart in reading the [political] direction back then.”
Prabowo himself remains under scrutiny, with the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) saying as recently as last week that it would again seek to question him over his alleged role in the violations.
Speculation that PAN and Gerindra are set to join forces intensified following statements by Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan, a PAN politician, who was quoted as saying by state-run news agency Antara on Friday that his party would announce its coalition with Gerindra during its national working meeting on Wednesday. Additionally, Gerindra deputy chairman Fadli Zon was reported by detik.com as saying on Friday that his party’s coalition with PAN was close to being official and that Prabowo will be making an appearance at PAN’s meeting on Wednesday as a symbol of their agreement.
PAN chairman and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa is expected to run as a vice presidential candidate to Prabowo, who is running for the presidency in the July 9 election. Gerindra needs to form a coalition with other parties because it didn’t get 25 percent of the vote needed in the April 9 legislative election to nominate its own candidate. It took in 11.81 percent of the vote, based on Friday’s final count.
Also sharing Bonar’s view, Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Coordinator Haris Azhar said that Amien was no longer a figure of democracy and instead has shifted his focus toward political power.
“They have forgotten the history of struggle in fighting for Indonesia’s democracy. Amien’s diversion started from the moment [he] tried to impeach Gus Dur,” Haris said, referring to Indonesia’s fourth president Abdurrahman Wahid.
In April, Amien himself had openly expressed support for Prabowo’s presidential candidacy, commending him as an intelligent and firm figure who was fit to be Indonesia’s next president. “Prabowo will not submit to foreign entities,” Amien was quoted as saying in a report by Tempo.co. Amien also said he has long established a friendship with Prabowo and that the two had maintained communication during the 1998 reformation period.
Aside from the potential tie-up with PAN, Gerindra has already started to form alliances with other parties. After a two-day meeting of its leaders this past weekend, the United Development Party (PPP) on Monday announced the formation of a coalition with Gerindra.