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Disputes simmering in Coalition on oil price hike plan in Indonesia

04-10-2012 13:56 BJT

JAKARTA, April 10 (Xinhua) -- As the membership of one of its " rebellious" parties of the ruling Indonesian coalition is in question following the controversial oil price hike, the problem now is how to communicate it to the public as it will impact the image of the parties.

Prosperous and Justice Party, or PKS, the fourth biggest party, often strayed from the coalition's political stance, and the most recent one is its opposition to the government plan to increase oil price on April 1, a very defiant move compared with all other coalition members.

A signal to exclude the fourth biggest party in the country has been sent by Secretary of the coalition Syarif Hasan, also a top official at the President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democrat Party, after a coalition meeting on April 3 at the president's house in Cikeas of West Java, which the PKS did not attend.

President Yudhoyono, chairman of the coalition, earlier aimed to officially make an announcement about the membership of the PKS, presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said last week.

Nevertheless, the plan seems to be aborted as it is likely to bring political risks to the Democrat Party, which has already suffered from a popularity decline due graft allegations of scores of its high-profile politicians, ahead of the direct presidential and parliamentary polls in 2014.

Democrat Party got the most votes at the 2009's parliamentary polls and Yudhoyono was re-elected for a second term with a single majority, mainly because of their strong commitment to anti- corruption reforms in the country.

Should the president officially announce the coalition has made a decision to expel the PKS from the coalition on the ground that the party opposes to the price hike plan, it is going to make the public feel that the PKS is being harmed.

For the PKS, this is going to draw huge public sympathy and support to make it bigger and more advantaged for the presidential and parliamentary elections in 2014.

Potential outcome of the announcement seems to make Yudhoyono's Democrat Party choose not to take the step and wait for the PKS to take an initiative to resign from the coalition.

However, the PKS avoids to take such initiative and expects the president's official announcement of the fate of the group.

"It is up to the decision-maker now. PKS is not going to resign before the president makes any decision," Secretary General of PKS Anis Mata said on Monday.

The Democratic Party formed the party coalition in 2010 in a bid to secure government policy at the top level by the end of Yodhoyono's second term in 2014.

The members of the coalition are the leading Democratic Party, the second biggest party of Golkar Party, the Nation Awakening Party, the Prosperous and Justice Party and the National Mandate Party. All the parties are among the six top parties in the country.

Raising oil price is a politically risky decision in Indonesia as it led to the fall of former president Soeharto in 1999, after 32 years in power.

The Gokar Party, the second biggest party, suddenly retrieved from supporting the oil price hike plan just a day before the parliament voted on March 31. Golkar Party made the decision hours after a Democrat Party top official told public that Golkar Party had proposed much more oil price hike.

The Golkar Party's quick decision before the votes is aimed at preventing its popularity from declining. But in the end the Party, along with most of other parties in the coalition, chose to take sides with the government plan.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, the third biggest party in the country, and other two smaller parties strongly rejected the oil price hike plan.

The plan to raise oil prices is expected to dent the purchasing power of more than 40 million low income people and millions of middle class as it may push the inflation rate by up to more than 7 percent.

The move may be followed by price hikes of other basics.

Indonesia is a net oil importer that provides a huge oil subsidy for consumers, which is unsustainable due to volatile global oil price.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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