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PKS prods govt over antigraft drive

Jakarta Post, 01 August 2005

Wrapping up its week-long national conference on Sunday, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) criticized President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's administration for its less than satisfactory performance in fighting corruption and enforcing the rule of law.

However, the party also said that the policies being carried out by the current administration were still tolerable as the economy was not reverting to pre-crisis conditions.

"We hope the administration still has the political will to improve its policies so as to meet the people's aspirations for better conditions," PKS president Tifatul Sembiring told the closing ceremony of the congress that was also attended by Susilo.

Tifatul said that the party will present a comprehensive evaluation of the administration's performance in October, the first anniversary of Susilo's United Indonesian Cabinet.

Highlighting corruption eradication, the Islamic-oriented party's political statement supported the work of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the interdepartmental antigraft team, while requesting that the government improve and speed up its efforts against graft.

"We urge government to improve its efforts, in terms of the quality of handling the cases, the speed (with which cases are handled), and the number of cases, so that people will know that the current corruption eradication campaign is not mere lip service," Tifatul said, as quoted by Antara.

At the same event, Tifatul's predecessor and current People's Consultative Assembly Speaker Hidayat Nur Wahid urged the government to impose harsher penalties for those engaging in corrupt activities.

"Timely, harsh penalties will prevent lengthy court procedures, which later on will release corrupt persons. It's even appropriate to give a death sentence to them, as stated in Nahdlatul Ulama's edict that allows death penalty for corruption," he said, referring to the nation's largest Muslim organization.

Hidayat also suggested cracking down on family members of corrupt persons in order to spread the national antigraft campaign.

Cracking down on their family members will be shock therapy for other corrupt people, he argued. "Often, it is family members who encourage corruption. If we crack down on family members of corrupt persons also, then it will become a reminder for others not to commit similar crimes."

Aside from corruption, the highlight of the PKS' political statement was its rejection of proposed salary hikes for legislators and high-ranking government officials including the president and vice president as well as ministers.

"As the nation is still struggling with the protracted economy crisis, it's not the right moment and the community will not accept it," Tifatul said.

The party, however, backed the plan to increase salaries of low echelon civil servants, and low-ranking military and police officers, in order to improve their performance.

Government officials and state apparatus were also urged to embrace a modest lifestyle as a show of their responsibility in using the people's money, and as a form of empathy towards the suffering of the people.

Tifatul reiterated PKS' target to be one of the three major parties after the 2009 general elections, targeting 20 percent of seats in the House of Representatives.

The PKS won 1.4 million voter in the 1999 general elections, increasing this to 8.3 million in 2004, representing around 7.3 percent of the total vote and making it the sixth largest party among the 24 parties that contested that poll.

In the recent direct local elections, the party also won in 40 regions, both independently or through party coalitions.

When closing the PKS' national congress, President Susilo praised the party for being well mannered and for its ethical political stances, which he said should be followed by other parties.

Copyright Jakarta Post

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