On the eve of an answer from the Prosperous Justice Party’s (PKS) majelis syuro (religious council) regarding the party’s stance on the fuel plan, the ruling Democratic Party told the Muslim-based party to leave the coalition.
Democratic Party secretarygeneral Andi Nurpati said the PKS should quickly decide its stance on the subsidized fuel price plan and should not resort to populism in an attempt to mend its graft-tainted image.
“If they remain in opposition to the government’s decision and policies they should just leave the coalition as they fail to fulfi l their commitment,” Andi told reporters.
She said that as good Muslims the PKS should keep its promise. The PKS has split into two camps over the government plan. The party’s central board and its lawmakers at the House of Representatives have adamantly declined to support the government.
Party chairman Anis Matta ordered party members in Jakarta to put up banners rejecting the fuel plan. Since last week, banners with the statement “The PKS rejects the fuel price hike” as well as pictures of Anis and a slew of PKS politicians have been strategically placed at points throughout the city.
The other camp within the party, led by Communication and Information Technology Minister Tifatul Sembiring openly supports the government plan.
Tifatul and other PKS members who serve as Cabinet ministers — Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf al Jufrie and Agriculture Minister Suswono — all agreed to the plan.
The stance of the central board has irked politicians from Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party and the other four coalition partners.
Democratic Party executives said the PKS should not have double standards and urged the party to formally leave the coalition. The PKS insisted its decision was not a form of rebellion, arguing that the opposition was part of a campaign to defend the poor.
Separately, chairman of the PKS faction at the House of Representatives said that the party would only make the crucial decision after the majelis syuro’s final meeting. He said there was a possibility that the majelis syuro could delay its meeting.
The former People’s Consultative Assembly speaker also said the party’s central board remained united in opposition of the government plan.
“The final decision may be in the hands of the council. But the central board remains consistently against the plan,” he said.
Meanwhile, the outspoken PKS deputy secretary general Fahri Hamzah said that the party remains within the coalition and there was no need to respond to marching orders from the Democratic Party.
“We don’t need to respond any of those statements. It is the prerogative of the President [to expel the PKS from the coalition],” Fahri told The Jakarta Post.
Analysts said the PKS’ move to reject the government’s fuel plan was part of a public relation campaign to mend the party’s image, following the beef importation scandal, which involved some of its executives.
On Tuesday evening, President Yudhoyono and Vice President Boediono held a meeting with all ruling coalition political parties except the PKS, at the main hall of the Jakarta Convention Center.
The closed-door meeting kicked off at 8.30 p.m. and was attended by Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie, National Mandate Party (PAN) chairman Hatta Rajasa, United Development Party (PPP) chairman Suryadharma Ali, and National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaiman Iskandar.
Also in attendance was Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto, State Secretary Sudi Silalahi, and Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin.