Indonesia: After Wahid

The bitter power struggle between rival factions of Indonesia’s ruling elite came to a head this summer. The People’s Consultative Assembly completed a nine-month campaign to oust president Abdurrahman Wahid, voting 591-0 on 23 July to replace him with his deputy, Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Megawati soon won approval from Western powers for forming a cabinet dominated by technocrats who have enthusiastically supported IMF and World Bank sponsored ‘reforms’. The new regime, however, will need more than the goodwill of Australian or US capitalism to find a way out of the country’s deep social and economic crises. As well as a floundering economy, Megawati has to tackle several armed separatist movements, ethnic and religious conflicts, rampant corruption, and an upsurge of militant workers’ struggles.

The powerful influence of the armed forces over the new government ominously indicates that increased state repression will be used to try to hold the vast archipelago together, and to enforce austerity measures against the working class and poor.

Ironically, Wahid, an Islamic cleric, was brought to power with the support of the same parties and ruling factions which later manoeuvred to engineer his downfall. Following a general election, Wahid (‘Gus Dur’) defeated Megawati in the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) vote for the presidency in October 1999, although he commanded less than 10% of the seats in parliament and she had gained around a third. Wahid won the backing of reactionary groups opposed to the populist Megawati – the armed forces (TNI), right-wing Islamic parties, and Golkar (the party that ruled during the 32 years of bloody dictatorship under General Suharto). These conservative forces were also keenly aware that Megawati had won considerable support from the working class and urban poor and feared she would be more susceptible to their class demands.

Once in office, Wahid came under pressure from a number of sources to tackle the legacy of Suharto’s cronyism and brutal rule. The major capitalist powers encouraged him to ‘clean up’ the state apparatus, and defuse national and ethnic conflicts. This was not motivated by any guiding humanitarian principles – for decades the US and Australia ruling classes supported Suharto as ‘their man’ in the region – but by the powers’ desire to see the development of a so-called ‘clean capitalism’, where ‘normal’ property and business laws operate, economic ‘liberalisation’ is pushed through, and political stability achieved. This would give multinational companies the best opportunities to exploit Indonesia’s vast natural resources and human labour.

At the same time, Wahid was under pressure from radicalised students, the working class, and urban and rural poor. They had forced the seemingly invincible dictator Suharto from power following a revolutionary wave of mass demonstrations and protests in the late 1990s, and were hungry for major democratic, social and economic reforms.

Wahid soon enraged Golkar and the army chiefs by making even modest moves to prosecute members of the Suharto family and the military for corruption and human rights abuses. The same factions also fiercely criticised Wahid’s proposals for the decentralisation of power to the provinces, limited as they were, and demanded the military suppression of separatism in Aceh and West Papua (Irian Jaya).

The demand by the major capitalist powers, the IMF and World Bank for the Indonesian economy to be opened up to multinational companies meant Wahid taking on military involvement in economic and financial affairs. Although Wahid only made tentative moves in this direction, even subsequently clashing with the IMF, this outraged the TNI leaders.

During Wahid’s short tenure in office, Megawati increasingly accommodated herself to Golkar and the military. Her crude Indonesian nationalism and implacable defence of a highly centralised state, which included opposing self-determination for East Timor, meant she became a rallying point to the powerful vested interests which opposed the president.

Corruption allegations against Wahid marked the beginning of the campaign to unseat him. He was linked to an alleged misappropriation of 35 billion rupiah ($3.9m) from the State Logistics Agency and the misuse of a $2 million donation from the Sultan of Brunei. Although in May 2001 the Attorney General cleared Wahid of any wrongdoing, his opponents in parliament used the allegations and his erratic behaviour to argue he was incompetent and should be impeached.

The protracted political crisis reached its culmination in June and July, when Wahid faced open insubordination from the heads of the armed forces and police. They opposed his plans to declare a state of emergency, dissolve parliament and call new elections as a means of avoiding impeachment proceedings. Wahid ordered the dismissal of police chief, Bimantoro, but he refused to step down. When the president called for his arrest, police tanks parked outside Bimantoro’s house in defiance. It was also reported that during Wahid’s last days 70 tanks and armoured cars parked outside his office and pointed guns in his direction.

Wahid’s support evaporates

Wahid’s threats of calling a state of emergency appeared increasingly empty. Moreover, a series of censure votes against him in the national parliament revealed he had no support outside his own party, the DPR. When the final coup de grace came at the special session of the MPR on 23 July, Wahid was an isolated, beleaguered figure. After losing office he remained defiantly in the presidential palace for a few days before exiting on a face-saving trip to the US for ‘medical reasons’.

Although a showdown between Wahid and other factions of the ruling elite was expected for some time, most commentators were surprised it passed without major bloodshed. For months Wahid’s supporters had orchestrated large demonstrations in his support in the capital Jakarta and other areas. Counter-protests were organised by mainly Islamic groups. Wahid had continually warned that he would bring ‘a rally of millions’ onto the streets to stop his removal, including armed militias linked to the Muslim organisation he used to lead, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), based mainly in East and Central Java.

His support dwindled away as the social and economic crisis worsened and he could offer no solution. The enormous illusions and hopes that the mass of people had in ‘parliamentary democracy’ – an inevitable stage of consciousness following decades of right-wing despotic rule – have been largely eroded. Indonesians have experienced continuous infighting within the ruling elite, seemingly unlimited corruption and cronyism, and Wahid’s own high-handed and autocratic methods.

There is little enthusiasm amongst workers and the poor for the new Megawati administration, but the Wahid years had only seen a deterioration in living standards and greater instability. Up to one quarter of the 210 million people, in the fourth most populous country in the world, live on or below the poverty line. The average wage of an industrial worker of around $100 per month has been reduced to a quarter of this value since 1998. Seven million workers have been sacked or forced to work in the black market.

Wahid discovered too late that he had little support. The police were believed to be more pro-Wahid and have had a history of clashing with the army. Rank-and-file police, however, were not convinced they should engage in a potentially serious confrontation with the army in order to carry out the desperate Wahid’s orders.

As those in ruling circles internationally saw which way the wind was blowing they gave up on Wahid and began to cultivate closer links with Megawati. Better to see her in power, and even an enhanced role for the military, they reckoned, than more months of political instability. Already the political crisis had worsened the economic situation, with the rupiah fast losing value.

Even Wahid’s brother, a leader of the NU, said the Muslim organisation (purportedly 30-40 million strong) did not have the resources to take to the streets on behalf of the president. Significantly, he also warned against the danger of unleashing ‘anarchy’. This mirrors recent statements by Megawati. What every side in the ruling class factional struggle fears above all else is the active participation of the working people in events. This could quickly get out of control and threaten the stability of capitalist rule as workers put their own demands to the fore.

Reflecting the various pressures from parliamentary factions, the TNI, and international capitalism, Megawati spent some time forming a new government. She referred to her new cabinet as being ‘Gotang Royong’, a rural phrase meaning something like, ‘for the common good’. Her new vice president, Hammzah Haz, is a Muslim leader and comes from one of the provinces, West Kalimantan. Megawati, the daughter of Ahmed Sukarno, the country’s founding president, carries the mantle of Indonesia nationalism, and articulates the interests of the ruling elite on Java, the most densely populated and economically developed island.

The country’s fifth president is well schooled in the art of unprincipled compromise and backroom manoeuvring. During the 1980s and 1990s she sat on Suharto’s puppet bodies and was a ‘conspicuously silent legislator’. In 1996 she was removed as a leader of one of the two minority parties allowed by the dictatorship because the ‘New Order’ regime disliked her growing popularity. Megawati went on to form the Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and, riding on the back of the revolutionary upsurge against the New Order regime, her party managed to win most seats in the 1999 general election.

Over the last two years, Megawati has won support from business people connected to the state and military bureaucracy. Although she remains beholden to these powerful interests, she will also try to appease the major capitalist powers and their institutions.

Bowing to the IMF

Her recently appointed economics minister, Dorodjatun Kuntjorojakata, and the new finance minister, Boediono, were enthusiastically welcomed by the big powers and the financial markets. Boediono, who in the past supported IMF and World Bank ‘reform programmes’, is set to supervise the sale of $50 billion worth of state assets, according to the Financial Times (10 August). The newspaper highlights the need to reduce the annual budget deficit, currently running at 4% of gross domestic product (GDP), and goes on to encourage the new government to ‘accelerate’ the sale of the $500 billion of assets held by the Industrial Bank Restructuring Agency.

The economy has been in a woeful state since the Asian financial crisis began in 1997. This saw the rupiah plummet in value and a net outflow of private capital worth $7.7 billion in 1997-98 compared with an inflow of $12.7 billion in 1996-97. Millions of working people were thrown out of jobs and into abject poverty. Grandiose building projects, especially in the financial areas of Jakarta, were mothballed as the money ran out. Today it is still possible to see where cranes and other construction machinery stopped in the middle of work.

Hopes of an economic recovery have proven to be premature. Although economic growth was estimated at 3.5% in the early part of this year, it is less than the 4.2% experienced in 2000. Indeed, following the region’s financial turmoil in the late 1990s, Indonesia’s GDP fell by more than 20% over 18 months. The rupiah may have surged with the incoming government, just as it did temporarily when Wahid took office in 1999, but in total terms it has lost nearly 36% of its value since January 2000. On all other fronts the news is also bad: consumer spending slumped by 38% year-on-year in April; the current account surplus is expected to fall to $2.2 billion in 2001, down from $5.4 billion in 2000; and the budget deficit could rise to 5.9% of GDP in the next twelve months.

Megawati desperately needs loans and international investment. The IMF played hardball with Wahid and since December 2000 has withheld a $5 billion ‘aid package’ because of the administration’s ‘lax behaviour’ towards the institution’s preferred ‘reforms’. The IMF has indicated to the new regime that it may release a $400 million loan as part of a bigger $4.9 billion package. In return it wants to see the sale of $96 billion in assets.

To carry out the instructions of the IMF and World Bank means not only a clash with some business sections for Megawati. In concrete terms it means further misery for millions of workers, urban and rural poor, with new rounds of lay-offs and increased impoverishment, which will lead to heightened industrial and social turmoil, as well as ethnic, religious and regional disputes. Moreover, whatever arrangements Megawati may come to with the IMF, the general economic situation in Asia and internationally means she will be incapable of lifting the mass of the people out of poverty. The downturn in the US, which accounts for 25% of Asia’s exports, will have a dramatic effect. Growth rates, manufacturing output, and exports have all fallen across the region. In the year to April, exports dropped 2.4% in Hong Kong, 10% in Taiwan, 9.9% in South Korea and 10% in Thailand. Japan continues to stagnate. Estimates for its long-term growth have been revised down to 1-1.5%, compared to rates of almost 4% in the 1980s. Private capital flows to so-called ‘emerging markets’, which includes Indonesia and most of Asia, are projected to fall to their lowest level since 1992.

In many respects Indonesia is losing the ground it conquered on the world market during the years of the ‘miracle economies’ of Asia. Once the third-largest supplier of coffee in the global market, Indonesia has now slipped into fourth place behind Colombia, Brazil and Vietnam.

The Megawati government will fight a losing battle to placate regional demands for more resources and hold the huge country together in the face of a declining economy, a weak and venal ruling class, and the myriad of national, ethnic and regional problems. Spread across an archipelago of thousands of islands between Asia and Australia, Indonesia is highly diverse, containing the world’s largest Muslim population, other religions with millions of followers, and over 300 local languages.

Under Suharto power was highly centralised and backed up by brutal military rule. Regional governors were handpicked and resources were moved wholesale to Jakarta and for overseas investment. The economic crisis and political disarray have encouraged a rise in regions demanding a decentralisation of power and more funding. In Riau, Sumatra province, ‘regional leaders’ have threatened to block oil production unless they receive more public funding.

The nationalist Megawati has spoken against conceding powers from the centre. But an inflexible, hard-line approach runs the risk of serious clashes with resource-rich provinces, and even attempted breakaways. She may therefore be forced to make some concessions. According to officials in her party, proposals are being drawn up to give local government a larger share of funding from mining, forestry, gas, oil and income tax. The proposals are a long way from conceding genuine democratic and local powers and the redistribution of funds which could really benefit the poor. They are primarily an enticement to ‘local leaders’, often right-wing businessmen and tribal chiefs, who will be eagerly weighing up what they can gain from the release of new funds.

Ethnic strife

Even more urgent are the series of ethnic and separatist struggles Megawati has to contend with. The latest inter-ethnic flare-up concerns Christians and Muslim migrants on the island of Sulawesi. The Pamona people in the highland town of Tentena are in conflict with the Muslim-controlled coastal town of Poso. Three years of fighting peaked last year, with hundreds killed on both sides. The last few months have again seen a rise in attacks and reprisals.

Suharto’s ‘transmigration’ programme saw large numbers of landless farmers from Java moved to other parts of the country, fanning ethnic flames. Migrants were moved into Sulawesi after 1945, including Javanese Muslims and Hindus from Bali. Over a quarter of West Papua’s two-and-a-half million people are transmigrants, who were brought to the area in an effort to give Suharto a social and political base. In all cases the authorities ignored the cultural and democratic rights of the indigenous peoples.

The recent fighting in Sulawesi started over rows concerning the allocation of government posts to representatives from the Christian and Muslim communities. Given that the island is made up of a delicate patchwork of communities, an all-island war is a real prospect. Since 1999, the neighbouring Malukus islands have seen 4,000 people killed in similar fighting between Muslims and Christians. Hundreds of thousands from both sides have become refugees. Earlier this year, conflict between indigenous Dayaks and migrant Madurese in Kalimantan led to more terrible ethnic atrocities, including the beheading of women and children.

The roots of the conflicts in all these cases, whatever the latest claims and counter-claims, lie in widespread poverty and a struggle over territory and limited resources. Rival community leaders have incited religious differences in order to shore up their own privileges and interests. Ethnic violence has also been whipped up by sections of the military and reactionary Islamic groups in order to bolster their own positions and to undermine the presidency of Wahid.

The ruling elite is also quite prepared to unleash the most horrific communal strife if it suits their objectives. The government, military and sections of the media deliberately orchestrated the 1998 anti-Chinese riots on Java. Suharto wanted to divert attention from the crisis of the system and attempted to scapegoat the small Chinese community for the problems in society.

Megawati supported the demand for military crackdowns against independence movements in West Papua and Aceh during Wahid’s rule. Sections of the ruling elite are against any concessions to separatists believing they will lead to the break-up of Indonesia. Since the separatist struggle began in Aceh, northern Sumatra, during the 1970s over 5,000 people have died. When Wahid took power he negotiated a truce with rebels from the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) and held talks over a limited form of autonomy and for a greater share of income from gas reserves returning to the province. The negotiations stalled and fighting renewed.

When the US corporation Exxon Mobile suspended production at three gas fields and at Arun liquefied natural gas plant, complaining of inadequate security, a raw nerve was touched. Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of liquefied natural gas and Aceh gas fields account for one-third of its gas exports, providing $100 million a month to state coffers. Wahid and the Indonesian ruling class could not afford the gas field closures. Negotiations were ended with GAM and a new brutal ‘limited military operation’ was set in train.

Similarly, after initial proposals in 1999 to give West Papua limited autonomy by May 2001, Wahid was forced to retreat by the combined efforts of Golkar, TNI and Megawati. West Papua has huge natural resources, including the world’s largest gold mine, and gas and oil reserves, all of which are exploited by Western corporations. The failure of Indonesian governments to close the huge gap between the province’s natural wealth and the poverty of its inhabitants has greatly fuelled opposition to Jakarta rule. Out of 27 provinces West Papua is the sixth-biggest donator to Indonesia’s national income. Yet it has the worst health and highest levels of infant and maternity deaths.

During a recent speech to mark the 56th anniversary of Indonesian independence, Megawati surprised many by apologising for human rights abuses committed by the TNI in Aceh and West Papua. This indicates she may want to rein in those sections of the military contributing to the instability. Megawati went on to recognise East Timor independence for the first time, but was adamant that Aceh and West Papua would never be allowed to break away.

It will not be possible, however, to guarantee human or civil rights or satisfy demands for genuine self-determination in Aceh or West Papua on the basis of continued rule from Jakarta. Even if limited autonomy was introduced to the provinces, the areas will continue to be looted for their rich resources by central government and multinational companies. Economically, they will be doomed to remain underdeveloped and poor on the basis of continued capitalist rule. Only a small layer of corrupt ‘national leaders’ would gain from such a deal.

If Megawati, under the influence of military chiefs, takes a tough line on separatist movements it will not resolve anything. On the contrary, further repression is likely to bolster moods to break away from Jakarta. Two years ago, up to one million people demonstrated for independence in Aceh, and many thousands defied a ban to do the same in 2000. Protest transport strikes gripped the province in the run-up to Indonesian Independence Day on 17 August 2001.

There can be no military solution to the national issues. If strongman Suharto was incapable of defeating separatist movements, what chance has Megawati and a much less cohesive TNI, whose rank and file are reportedly suffering from low morale?

The separatist leaders, however, offer no solution to the misery facing the peoples of Aceh or West Papua. Their narrow nationalism and pro-market policies cannot meet the aspirations of workers and the poor – for democratic rights and a decent standard of living. Furthermore, attacks by some separatist groups against poor immigrants only play into the hands of the Indonesian chauvinists and divide the working class. The separatist leaders want to be rulers of ‘independent states’ which would be, in reality, dominated by the big capitalist powers and multinational companies ruthlessly exploiting working people and the environment.

East Timor is a good example of what capitalist ‘independence’ really means. After decades of heroic resistance, Indonesian troops left East Timor in 2000. Yet the people of the island still live in poverty, and Australian big business is busy attempting to grab as much control of the Timor Sea oil and gas reserves as possible. A deal will in all likelihood leave an East Timor administration with only a small part of oil and gas revenues, and certainly not enough to drag the country out of economic underdevelopment. The East Timorese were allowed at the end of August 2000 to vote in an election for a ‘constituent assembly’ after nearly two years of UN rule without democratic rights. This new body will ‘draft’ a constitution, no doubt under the careful eye of the big powers.

Role of the working class

Socialists fight for democratic rights and support the right of self-determination for oppressed nations, but also call for a struggle to fundamentally change society. Only a democratically planned economy can utilise the enormous wealth in East Timor, Aceh, and West Papua and throughout the archipelago, for the benefit of the entire working class and poor.

To achieve this the working class of oppressed nations need to link up with the workers and poor of Indonesia as a whole. Likewise, Indonesian workers must support the democratic rights of minorities, as part of a struggle to transform society. Only workers’ unity can successfully cut across ethnic and religious divisions.

The potential for this can be seen in the recent wave of industrial militancy. Workers from a number of ethnic backgrounds have recently taken joint action in opposition to new labour laws. Protests began in May when unions, such as the Harbour and Transport Workers’ Solidarity of Indonesia (SBMNI), organised rallies and a one-day strike. Further action on 11 June involved 99 cities and towns, including the important industrial areas of Jakarta. In cities such as Bandung, Surabaya and Jakarta there were running battles between striking workers and riot police.

Various radical student and youth groups and left parties played an important role in the struggle against the Suharto regime and for democratic rights. Many have come under attack from virulent ‘anti-communist’ groups connected to Golkar and right-wing Islamists. In June an anti-globalisation conference in Jakarta was raided and broken up by heavily armed police and sword wielding thugs from right-wing Islamic forces.

The anti-communist reactionaries have especially targeted one of the main organisers of the conference, the People’s Democratic Party (PRD). The PRD was formed in the mid-1990s and quickly developed a reputation as a fighting radical organisation, especially among students. Unfortunately, rather than adopt a clear independent class position, the PRD leadership has mistakenly raised illusions in so-called ‘progressive’ and ‘democratic’ figures from various wings of the ruling class.

During the movement against Suharto, the PRD gave support to Megawati. Only when Megawati clearly linked up with Golkar and the army tops did the PRD drop its support. But the mistake was repeated when the party opted to give support to Wahid as the best guarantor of democratic rights in government. This policy can only confuse and disarm student activists and those workers influenced by the PRD’s ideas.

The PRD’s policies have been greatly influenced by the Australian Democratic Socialist Party. Under the misleading term, ‘uninterrupted revolution’, this ex-Trotskyist group puts forward a version of the old ‘two stages’ theory, which was practised by Stalinist parties in Asia and throughout the ex-colonial world. It stipulates that the struggle for socialism must be put off into the distant future, while alliances are made with sections of the ‘progressive bourgeoisie’ in order to win ‘immediate gains’. This ignores that fact that all sections of the ruling class in the ex-colonial world are completely incapable of carrying out consistent democratic reforms or transforming the living conditions of the mass of people. How can they, when the system they are based on – capitalism and landlordism – is responsible for the barbaric conditions facing working people?

Wahid and Megawati posed as ‘reformers’ under Suharto but in reality acted as mild opposition. They agreed to the limited constitutional reforms made by Suharto’s successor BJ Habbibie in 1998. The parliament (DPR), retains a group of military appointees, and the upper chamber is made up of the DRP plus 200 representatives appointed by provincial parliaments and ‘special interest groups’. Megawati has intrigued with the TNI and Golkar to win power, and Wahid tried to use the army to stay in office.

Developments on the left

In the late 1950s and early 1960s the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) adopted a similar ‘stages’ theory which meant forming a coalition with Sukarno. Sukarno had popular nationalist appeal but was an authoritarian, pro-capitalist leader. The PKI’s policy disarmed the working class during Suharto’s coup of 1965-66, which put him into power. Instead of mobilising millions of communist members and working people to defeat reaction and capitalism, the PKI leaders relied on the good offices of the ‘progressive’ Sukarno. Around a million workers, students and youth died in the anti-communist bloodbath. Big powers, such as the US and Australia, aided and abetted this terrible defeat, fearing a PKI-dominated government would lead to the abolishment of capitalism in Indonesia.

The PRD support for ruling-class figures has not had the same enormous consequences for the working class but, nevertheless, it has disorientated activists and helped to arrest the development of an independent movement of the working class which fights for its own class interests.

The party leadership’s untenable position produced a split in its ranks late last year and the formation of the Democratic Socialist Association (PDS). In its Statement of Split From the PRD (14 November 2000), the PDS correctly condemns the PRD’s support for Wahid: "Gus Dur has given space and opportunity for the revival of the remnants of the New Order by not putting Suharto and his cronies on trial, collaborating with a faction in the military, making a coalition with Golkar, submission to the IMF and World Bank, and… even has bred corruption, collusion and nepotism".

Positions in the Statement were later amplified in a document, Political Platform of the PDS. The Platform marks a significant and welcome departure from the policies of the PRD leaders. The party’s struggle against all sections of the Indonesian ruling class is clearly linked with the world anti-globalisation movement and calls for international workers’ solidarity.

In a series of ‘immediate demands’, the Platform emphasises the need to struggle for progressive reforms on a range of issues, including workers’ rights, social welfare, democratic and human rights, women’s liberation, the environment and education. Furthermore, the document says it is necessary to "respect the right of self-determination for nations".

Some of the ‘immediate demands’, however, are somewhat ambiguous and could give rise to illusions in capitalist democracy. For example, the Platform calls for a "democratic and popular constitution", and the "application of the parliamentary system". Of course, socialists need to fight for all possible democratic rights, but it is necessary to give demands a clear class character. Given the continuing fraudulent nature of ‘democracy’ in Indonesia, it is still correct to call for elections to a genuine constituent assembly, and to campaign for a majority workers’ and poor farmers’ government which enacts far-reaching socialist policies.

The Platform raises the need for "workers’ control over decision making related to investment, production and marketing processes". Under ‘Tasks of Socialists’, it calls for "a socialist political party able to lead the oppressed people into struggling for the creation of a free, prosperous and egalitarian society".

In our opinion, it is necessary to clearly demonstrate the central role of the working class in overturning capitalist rule and in running a new socialist society. The working class, bringing behind it radical students, poor farmers and middle layers, is the only force capable of breaking the grip of the big capitalist powers, the local bosses and their state apparatus, and re-organising society along genuine socialist lines. The major capitalist industries, the big banks and financial houses, and major land holdings must be nationalised. Only a planned economy, under democratic workers’ control and management, can lift Indonesia’s many millions out of poverty.

A socialist revolution in Indonesia would immediately act as a battle cry to the oppressed all over Asia to follow suit. The establishment of a confederation of socialist states in the region, on a free and equal basis, would finally put an end to the misery of capitalism and landlordism, the rule of the generals, and begin to erode the deep national, religious and ethnic divisions.

To win power, the Indonesian working class needs to build its own independent class organisations. The PDS Platform raises the need to "pioneer left unity" and build "democratic and broad fronts and alliances among anti-capitalism and anti-imperialism forces".

A united front of left parties, trade unions, and other workers’ organisations, plus genuine pro-democracy student and youth forces, has to mobilise against the reactionary ‘anti-communist’ forces. Moreover, the left should put forward a clear socialist programme, based on the class interests of workers and the urban and rural poor. This includes exposing the pro-capitalist policies of Megawati, especially to those workers who may still have illusions in her.

In the stormy period ahead, there will be ample opportunities for the left in Indonesia. The issues raised by the PDS are an important step in the process of reaching the necessary theoretical, programmatic, strategic and tactical clarification required to build a successful mass revolutionary socialist party.

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August 2001