Hunt on for new Golkar chairman, House Speaker

Jakarta - Setya Novanto, senior Golkar politician, has resigned from his position as the Speaker of the House of Representatives (DPR) for the second time.

The first time that he had given up his top post in the parliament was over the "Papa asks for share" case on Dec 16, 2015.

Vowing to support the Joko Widodo (Jokowi) administration, Novanto won the position as Golkar chairman on May 17, 2016, replacing Aburizal Bakrie, who stepped down to end an internal conflict within Golkar.

At that time, Golkar had leadership split between Bakrie, who declared to be outside the government and played a check and balance role, and Agung Laksono, who was in favor of the Jokowi government.

After holding the Golkar chairmanship, Novanto was reinstated as the House Speaker on Nov 30 2016, because he was not proven guilty in the scandal concerning Freeport shares.

Being currently temporarily detained by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) over a graft case, Novanto recently sent a letter to again resign as the Parliament chairman.

Sarifuddin Sudding, deputy chairman of the Houses Ethics Committee (MKD), told the media about the resignation of Novanto on Dec 11, 2017.

The leadership of the House of Representatives received two letters from Novanto, respectively, on Dec 4 and 6.

In another letter, Novanto appointed Syamsuddin as the House Speaker, Sudding noted on Dec 11.

A least 60 members of the Golkar Party faction in DPR, however, signed a petition rejecting the appointment of Syamsuddin by Novanto.

"There are already more than half. We are 91, but several are not available," Fadel Muhammad, a member of the Golkar faction, said on Dec 11.

Golkar has a mechanism for cadre replacement in the DPR; therefore, the partys cadres refuse a unilateral appointment of Syamsuddin by a certain group, he stated.

Any replacement or appointment of Golkar cadres as DPR leader should be discussed with the partys Advisory Council, he noted.

After an internal discussion within Golkar, the decision could later be conveyed to the DPR or the Parliaments Consultative Board (Bamus), he revealed.

Replacement process should be accountable in accordance with the partys mechanism, while any unilateral or authoritarian action could humiliate Golkar, he remarked.

Golkar will first hold an extraordinary congress to appoint a new chairman to replace Novanto and later decide on a figure as the DPR chairman.

The DPRs Consultative Board, in its meeting on Dec 11, decided that the appointment of Novantos successor as House Speaker should be decided at Golkars internal meeting.

Therefore, the DPR would not implement what Novanto wanted in his letters, and Syamsuddin would not be installed as House Speaker, pending Golkars decision.

Syamsuddin Haris, political scientist of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), recently reminded Golkar to choose an experienced, young, and man of integrity to succeed Novanto as both the Golkar chairman and the House Speaker.

"Therefore, the next chairman of DPR should bring fresh air and optimism for DPR in the eye of the public and for the party itself," Haris remarked.

He believes that Golkar also has outlined similar criteria. The next chairman of Golkar will become the House Speaker, because the seat is set for the partys politician based on the result of the previous legislative elections.

To maintain good image of the Indonesian Parliament, its speaker should be clean and a man of integrity, he added.

Meanwhile, Siti Zuhro, another political scientist of LIPI, believed that Golkar Party should return as a modern political party that builds a democracy pillar.

"The internal problems of Golkar and personal actions of Novanto, in the name of Golkar, could harm cadre solidity and damage the partys image," Zuhro stated.

She opined that the letters of Novanto, non-active chairman of Golkar, to the Parliament concerning his resignation and appointment of Aziz Syamsuddin as the House Speaker, could affect Golkar and Syamsuddin.

According to her, a political party must work in accordance with democracy, namely based on the organizations decision and not on a unilateral decision of its non-active chairman or acting chairman.

"Replacement of chairman and appointment of House Speaker are very serious matters; therefore, it should be handled seriously," she noted.

As a major political party, Golkar should be serious in making decision on the House Speaker appointment. Moreover, it must not be decided by one person only, particularly because there is a strong resistance, she added.

"A decision on appointing Parliament chairman must follow the organizations regulations and procedures. Novantos magic letter could not be used," she added.

If Golkar does not return as a modern political party, she is worried that in the general elections in 2019, the party would lose a half of the 14 percent vote that Golkar won in 2014.

There are already several figures expressing their interest to be Golkar chairman. They include former president Soehartos daughter Siti Hediati Hariyadi and current Industry Minister Airlangga Hartarto.

Earlier, Novanto had written a letter from his prison cell, requesting that he could retain his positions as the Golkar Party chairman and speaker of the House of Representatives (DPR), pending a court ruling as he had filed a pretrial motion for the second time. But his wish was rejected by many parties.

Novanto was named as a suspect in an electronic identity cards (e-KTP) graft case on July 17.

He had filed a pretrial motion against the KPK. In October 2017, the South Jakarta District Court had approved Novantos pretrial motion challenging his suspect status in the e-KTP case. Judge Cepi had remarked that Novantos status as a suspect was not based on the KPKs standard operating procedure and the Criminal Procedure Code.

In November 2017, the KPK again named Novanto a suspect in the same graft case, and Novanto is again filing a pretrial motion against the anti-graft agency though this time from a KPK cell.

Source: Antara News

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