The Jakarta Post
National Mandate Party (PAN) patron Amien Rais, who is known as an outspoken critic of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, is being pressured to step down from his party post by its co-founders.
Amien, who is also one of PAN's founders, is serving as the party's advisory board chairman and is believed to have played a significant role in influencing PAN to support President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's challenger, Prabowo Subianto, in the election next year.
“It’s time for you [Amien Rais] to stop his political activities and pass the leadership of PAN to next generation,” the co-founders wrote in an open letter to Amien on Wednesday.
The co-founders who signed the letter were politician Abdillah Toha, lawyer Albert Hasibuan, women’s activist Zumrotin K. Susilo and writers Goenawan Mohamad and Toeti Heraty.
They said Amien had often engaged in political machinations that had gone beyond the party’s principles.
“As one of the key figures in the [post-1998] reform movement, you [Amien] have now supported and joined the politicians who aim to restore the New Order era,” they said in the letter, referring to the fact that Prabowo was a son-in-law of former president Soeharto, who had established the New Order.
The former military general’s presidential bid is also supported by the Berkarya Party, which was co-founded and is being run by Soeharto’s children.
“As an expert in politics, you have failed to educate the nation, yet you participate in spreading the issue of the Indonesian Communist Party revival, which is far from the truth.”
Amien had been an icon in the reform movement that pushed for change in the country after the fall of Soeharto.
PAN supports Prabowo, the Gerindra Party chairman, who is running with his fellow party member Sandiaga Uno.
Prabowo and Sandiaga are also backed by the Gerindra Party, the Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).
PAN’s decision to support Prabowo came after an internal dispute erupted between Prabowo supporters and Jokowi loyalists within the party.
In the 2016 Jakarta election, Amien supported a bitter, racially charged attack against then Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent, who was seeking reelection.
Albert said most of Amien's political moves made PAN unable to independently decide its political direction.
“Amien was a prominent figure in 1998, thus he deserved to be our leader at that time. We built PAN to be a modern party that embraced both the majority and the minority, but now Amien is no longer in line with that spirit,” Albert said.
PAN secretary-general Eddy Soeparno claimed that the five party co-founders were no longer active in politics, had no loyalists and, hence, did not have a say in the party.
“They are supporters of the rival camp,” Eddy said. “We want them to respect our executive board. PAN fully supports Amien’s position and his political views.”