In an unusual piece of fashion advice, Indonesia's military chief has suggested that the country's politically linked paramilitary forces should wear pink in the lead up to the national elections next April, in order to minimise militia violence. Indonesia's major political parties all have enormous civilian militias, numbering tens of thousands, who are supposed to provide 'security' for the parties, but are more famous for initiating riots between supporters from different parties, often in an attempt to intimidate the opposition. Only two weeks ago, two people were killed in Bali when supporters of rival parties clashed, sparking fears of a bloody election campaign. Thus, General Endriartono Sutarto suggested to parliament that dressing the militias in pink or other pastel colours might cool their tempers. Usually, they wear khaki or black military-style fatigues, accented with red, yellow or green, the colours of their party. Although not usually armed with anything more than bamboo sticks, the size and fervour of the groups make them a potent force. In the 1999 presidential elections, militia and supporters of Megawati Sukarnoputri's party almost burned down Jakarta when they discovered that Abdurrahman Wahid had been elected president by the parliament. Then, in 2001, while Mr Wahid was under pressure from impeachment proceedings, he threatened to unleash his militias on Jakarta if the opposition did not back down. Militias dressed in soft pinks or greens might find it harder to intimidate their opposition and lack the esprit de corps to run riot through a city. But, of course, the only way to really stop militia violence would be to disband the groups, something even the military chief dare not suggest. As well as providing a show of force around election time, militias who double as security guards at functions and nightclubs, and provide protection for illegal businesses such as gambling, are also often useful as revenue-raisers. As Muslim Mustajab, chairman of the East Java wing of Banser - the powerful paramilitary arm of Mr Wahid's National Awakening Party - hinted when asked if his men would be wearing pink; the militias are powerful in their own right and might not take kindly to being ordered around by the military. 'The party security forces are created as a social and youth force, they are not just to be used by the parties,' he said.