Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Former President Megawati Sukarnoputri has acquiesced to calls for younger leaders to rise up through her party’s ranks, but she warns that the process must not be forced or manipulated.
“Regeneration will definitely happen because regeneration is a natural [process],” the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman said on Wednesday in Jakarta.
“But please don’t engineer it. It will be much better if the citizens are given the freedom to choose [the party’s new leaders] rather than engineering them.”
Her remarks came a day after her husband, Taufik Kiemas, reiterated his call for the PDI-P to nominate a younger generation of candidates to contest the legislative and presidential elections in 2014.
“I think it’s time we let the country’s young people run in 2014,” he said on Tuesday, echoing earlier calls that his wife was too old to run for president once again.
“All parties need to go through regeneration and nurture younger leaders. I think it’s time for Megawati to do this.”
PDI-P legislator Maruarar Sirait said the party was actively nurturing younger politicians like himself and Puan Maharani, Megawati’s daughter.
But he argued that with popularity polls showing the chairwoman had a far better chance in the presidential election than anyone else from the PDI-P, it was natural that Megawati should be the party’s pick.
“The younger generation is being given the chance, but none of us is even polling 1 percent. So let’s not push it,” the legislator said.
While Taufik and Megawati are at loggerheads over her presumptive presidential bid, the former first couple were united in their response to the first-round victory of their candidate, Joko Widodo, in the Jakarta gubernatorial election.
Taufik said that among the factors behind Wednesday’s win, which will see Joko face off against the incumbent, Fauzi Bowo, in a run-off vote in September, was Megawati’s “king-making” abilities.
He said her decision to pair Joko with former East Bangka district head Basuki Tjahaja Purnama showed that the former president remained a “true stateswoman with the interests of the people at heart.”
Taufik said it also highlighted how Megawati could use her backseat role to push through a younger candidate in the 2014 presidential election.
“This is a good portent for 2014, when Megawati will be able to select the best among our young people to lead the nation,” he said.
“I believe that with her instincts and experience, she can pick candidates who will prove a surprise as they did today in the Jakarta election.”