A TIME FOR ACTION
|Students clash with police in Trisakti University Campus, May, 1998|
There were only three political parties during the New Order era: The Party of Functional Groups (or Golkar, the ruling party), the PDI, and the United Development Party (PPP). As in the case of PDI, the PPP party has long been a target of machination from the military, the ruling party and the New Order regime in general. Now, the PPP masses saw how the PDI members took to the street, having clashes with the hated military and the members of Golkar Party, and in general boasted that they were fighting for democracy. Eventually, the fire spread and the long-dormant PPP members roused themselves into action with the formation of the Mega-Bintang-Rakyat coalition. (Mega is for Megawati, Star is the banner of the PPP party, and “rakyat” is simply “people” in Bahasa Indonesia.) This is a broad coalition of the most radical elements within the PDI and PPP and sections of the students committees who survived the witch-hunt.
Soon, the Mega-Bintang-Rakyat coalition was able to hold tens of thousands strong demonstration, calling for the end of the New Order. These demonstrations often met with harsh measures by the military. The country was in chaos as news of clashes (often bloody) appeared the newspaper almost daily.
Towards the end of 1997, everyone was quite unsure of how to proceed. Suharto had been in power too long, no one could envision him dethroned. After a few hesitant discussions, there was a decision that in order to move forward, the fire must be brought into the capital. And in order to do it, the students must once again step forward and take the leading role.
Soon afterwards, almost all students in the Mega-Bintang-Rakyat coalition returned to their campuses. They carry the agitation with full fervor, frequently by barging into a classroom and calling for the students to abandon their seats and go out to the streets. The first campus to bear fruit to this method of agitation was Gajah Mada University of Yogyakarta, where in December 1997 the students held a three thousand strong anti-Suharto demonstration. After an agitation that called for Suharto to step down, the military opened fire. There was a three days battle in the campus where the students used stone, bows and arrows, Molotov cocktails, even self manufactured guns to hold off the military’s onslaught.
|The Dictator: General Suharto on Family Holiday|