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House bill silent on Sultan’s
succession

The Tugu in Yogya. (JP)
The Tugu in Yogya. (JP)

The contentious bill on the special status of Yogyakarta that is slated for endorsement on Wednesday is silent on one crucial issue: how to manage succession in the city’s two royal courts.

The question is not moot: Yogyakarta Governor Sultan Hamengkubuwono X, who leads the Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat palace is 67, while Deputy Governor Paku Alam IX, who heads the Pakualaman court, is 77.

Article 14 of the bill requires that Hamengkubuwono and the Paku Alam undergo “fit-and-proper” tests to be administered by the Yogyakarta Legislative Council to determine if the pair are able to complete additional five-year appointments as the province’s top executives.

Agun Gunandjar, the chairman of the House Commission II overseeing home affairs, warned the Yogyakarta Legislative Council when vetting gubernatorial candidates in the future, saying that it would be almost impossible for the royal families to nominate incompetent candidates for the posts.

Agun, however, said that the bill stipulated that the tests would be basic and only verify education, health, religious faith, age and the political affiliation of the candidates proposed by the royal family to succeed the monarchs, who are traditionally appointed by the central government as the province’s governor and deputy governor.

The bill requires that the royal families provide the best education for those in the line of royal succession, as well as additional training in wide array of subjects.

Agun brushed off speculation that article could be used by the central government and political parties to meddle in the internal affairs of the royal courts.

The bill is also silent on what would happen if Hamengkubuwono becomes incapacitated or resigns before the end of his appointment as governor. The bill cedes the question of succession to the royal courts.

Commission II deputy chairman Gandjar Pranowo said that the Yogyakarta monarchies had their own succession mechanisms that the central government should respect.

Again, the question is not moot: the Yogyakarta sultanate already faces a succession crisis. Hamengkubuwono has five daughters, but no sons, and men are the only ones who can succeed him, according to tradition.

Gandjar, a lawmaker from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) representing Yogyakarta, said the kingdom has always been ruled by a man and never by a woman.

“As the current sultan has fathered no princes, the royal family will have appoint a new sultan from his close relatives, maybe his younger brothers,” he said.

Aside from the automatic appointments, the royal families will be given political immunity as well as control over land, state funds and taxation.

“The special province will receive its special funds from the state budget for the day-to-day management of the royal court, as well for efforts to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the sultanate. The budget will be allocated by the provincial government directly to the central government, without any approval from the provincial legislature,” Gandjar said.

The bill slated for the endorsement is firm in one area: Hamengkubuwono and the Paku Alam must resign their memberships from political parties to retain their appointments as the leaders of the administration.

Hamengkubuwono previously said that he was ready to resign from the Golkar Party’s patron boards and renounce his connections to the National Democratic Party, which he co-founded. “I will accept the ban,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

Separately, Ari Dwipayana, a political analyst from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, said that the ban, however, should not bar Hamengkubuwono from seeking higher office. “This clause does not abolish his constitutional rights to be elected as president or vice president,” he said.

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