On the 70th anniversary of the country’s independence on Aug. 17, a group of politicians and former Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel declared the formation a new political party, the Partai Priboemi (Indigenous Party).

Its declaration has raised eyebrows, especially for its promotion of the rights of people whom the party considers the native inhabitants of this country.

Many have said that the party has tried to revive the distinctions made by the Dutch colonial government, which divided the country’s population into three categories: Westerners from Europe, people from the near east who originated in China, the Middle East and India and then native Indonesians or ‘pribumi’, located on the lowest rung of the social ladder.

However, the party’s chairman Muhardi denied that the use of Priboemi in the party’s name was a means of differentiating between native and non-native people, especially those who have descended from Chinese, Arab and Indian shores.

“We never said that it’s about pribumi (native) and non-pribumi (non-native),” Muhardi told The Jakarta Post earlier this week.

Muhardi said that the founders of the party simply wanted native Indonesians to thrive in the economy and in the nation’s politics, which was currently being controlled by what he called “certain people and groups.”

“The term native Indonesian here means anyone from any faith and tribal group who was born in Indonesia,” he said.

Muhardi also said that one of the main objectives of the party would be to promote and struggle for the rights of native Indonesians to be the masters of their own country.

“We should accept anyone who visits or seeks welfare in our country, however they can’t come here and make us their lackeys,” Muhardi said.

Muhardi further said that to date, native Indonesians were not yet the masters on their own country.

He said that Indonesia should follow in the footsteps of China in promoting the rights of native citizens by barring foreigners from becoming politicians, setting up political parties or running for president.

“In China, we can’t build a political party, however why can [Chinese-Indonesians] do that here?”
he asked.

Furthermore, Muhardi said that the party would also struggle to bring back the TNI to the House of Representatives, as it was the only element in the country which could protect the country’s ideology.

“Today, our ideology is being destroyed in the House,” he said. Muhardi maintained that the role the TNI was not simply to secure the country’s borders.

Muhardi, however, declined to confirm if the new party had ties to the military and said that the presence of former TNI chief Gen. Djoko Santoso during the party’s launch was only as that of a guest.

He denied reports that said that Djoko served as chairman of the party’s advisory board.

“We only invited him as a guest to our declaration,” Muhardi said.

In spite of the party’s retrograde platforms and promotion of nativist ideas, senior historian Anhar Gonggong said that the public should not overreact.

“We just have to wait and see if in the future the party sticks to its words in not differentiating between indigenous and non-indigenous people,” Anhar told the Post.

Currently, the party has already set up provincial branches (DPW) in the country’s 34 provinces and is now focusing on strengthening its base in the regional branches (DPD).

“We have also received support from 80 mass organizations, but we will not disclose what these organizations are until the Youth Pledge Day commemoration in Oct. 28,” Muhardi said. (ind)

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