Yogyakartans pin big hopes on their sultan
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The people of Yogyakarta province are placing big hopes on Sultan Hamengkubuwono X as he is scheduled on Wednesday to be sworn in for the first time as an appointed governor, following the enactment of Law No. 13/2012 on Yogyakarta’s special status last month.
“Regardless of the governor now being appointed and not elected, I really hope that the control function of the people through the provincial legislative council will still work,” local community figure Budi Setiawan told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
Law No. 13/2012, which was endorsed by the House of Representatives in August after almost 10 years of deliberation, partly stipulates that the governor and deputy governor of the province are the ruling sultan of Yogyakarta palace and duke of Pakualaman principality respectively.
Other tough issues in the deliberation included whether the Yogyakarta governorship and deputy governorship were democratically elected by the people or directly appointed by the law and given to the ruling Yogyakarta sultan and Pakualaman principality duke respectively.
Following the enactment of the law on Sept. 3, the provincial legislative council’s plenary session on Sept. 21 finally named the incumbent sultan and Pakualam IX as Yogyakarta governor and deputy governor respectively.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to swear in both of them on Wednesday at the Yogyakarta State Palace. Article 27 (1) of the law stipulates that the swearing in of the Yogyakarta governor and deputy governor should be conducted by the President.
Budi, who is also chairman of the management of Yogyakarta Palace’s Masjid Agung mosque, said that with the enactment of the law, in the palace and principality there was one thing that both needed to consider: internal reforms.
“There is no way now to think that the king can do no wrong. He is human and therefore can do wrong. That is why opening himself to input and criticism is also a must,” Budi said.
Tri Sudaryanto of Umbulharjo, Yogyakarta, shared the same view, saying that the palace and principality could no longer tolerate internal conflict in royal institutions and internal matters as it would affect the people of Yogyakarta in general.
“It’s important that the palace, for example, makes itself clear about the succession especially in regard to the fact that the sultan only has daughters and no son,” said Tri, who is a traditional herbal medicine producer.
He said the sultan’s naming of his successor was important because it prevented the palace from encountering internal conflict if something happened to the sultan. “No one knows for how long we will live, so it’s better to be prepared,” he said.
He also expressed optimism that the present sultan had the capacity and experience to act and rule the province democratically.
“Although I was initially among those who preferred an election, I now think that the appointment is even better as [the governor and vice governor] posts cannot be competed for by political parties. I trust no political party,” Tri said.
Totok Adianto, a pedicab driver, expressed the same sentiment.
“I really hope the sultan can rule better so that the condition of Yogyakartans will improve,” said Totok of Kulonprogo.
Separately, political observer Arie Sujito of Gadjah Mada University said that both the governor and deputy governor had to be able to interpret the meaning of special status so that it contributed to the people’s wealth, more accountability, better public services, more pluralism and more tolerance.