(Petaling Jaya, Friday): B.J. Habibie must be one of the rare few leaders in the world who was greeted with calls on him by his countrymen to step down within hours of his being sworn into the highest office of his country, in this case as the third Indonesian President.
This is an indication of the intensity of the distrust felt by Indonesians as to whether Habibie is capable of fulfilling their popular aspirations for political reforms, democratisation and good governance despite the new Indonesian Presidentís broadcast last night promising reforms to attack "corruption, collusion and nepotism".
As Habibie was one of Suhartoís cronies, the question is whether Suharto Inc. would be replaced by Habibie Inc and whether there would be an all-out war against "corruption, collusion and nepotism".
Habibie should immediately set Indonesia on the course of political reforms and democratisation by establishing a Reform Committee comprising opposition political parties, non-governmental organisations, pro-democracy advocates, human rights activists, intellectuals and prominent leaders who have made their democratic aspirations well known to the Indonesian public.
This Reform Committee should pave the way for democratic reforms and new general elections in Indonesia, at the latest in six months time.
The Reform Committee should be empowered to dismantle all repressive decrees and laws enacted by Suharto that have been used brutally against the people of Indonesia and East Timor and their supporters, including the repeal of the five political laws of 1985 and the anti-subversion law as well as articles of the Criminal Code, and laws that violate the freedoms of association, assembly and expression.
Habibie should also demonstrate his commitment to political reforms and democratisation by immediately releasing all political prisoners including East Timur leader Xanana Gusmao, Parliamentarian Sri Bintang Pamungkas and trade union activists like Muchtar Papahan, Dita Indah Sari and others.