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Megawati, SBY hint at reconciliation

New beginning?: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (right) shakes hands with Puan Maharani, daughter of former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, while Puan’s father and People’s Consultative Assembly Speaker Taufiq Kiemas (center) looks on at the Presidential Office in Jakarta on Wednesday. Puan and Taufiq met Yudhoyono to hand him a copy of the new book Gelora Kebangsaan Tak Kunjung Padam (Unflagging Nationalism). Many people are speculating about the motive behind Wednesday’s meeting. Courtesy Presidential Office/Abror Rizki
New beginning?: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (right) shakes hands with Puan Maharani, daughter of former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, while Puan’s father and People’s Consultative Assembly Speaker Taufiq Kiemas (center) looks on at the Presidential Office in Jakarta on Wednesday. Puan and Taufiq met Yudhoyono to hand him a copy of the new book Gelora Kebangsaan Tak Kunjung Padam (Unflagging Nationalism). Many people are speculating about the motive behind Wednesday’s meeting. Courtesy Presidential Office/Abror Rizki

In what could be seen as a further conciliatory gesture, Taufiq Kiemas, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chief patron, met with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Wednesday, hinting at a possible collaboration between the two powerful families in the 2014 general election.

Taufiq, the husband of PDI-P chairperson Megawati Soekarno-putri, showed up at the State Palace in Central Jakarta and brought his daughter, Puan Maharani, leader of the PDI-P faction at the House of Representatives, with him.

The meeting began with Taufiq presenting his biography, titled Gelora Kebangsaan Tak Kunjung Padam (Unflagging Nationalism) to Yudhoyono.

The biography will be officially launched early next week to mark his 70th birthday. Taufiq had presented the book to Vice President Boediono earlier in the day.

During the 30-minute meeting, Taufiq, who is also the speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), used the occasion to express his gratitude to Yudhoyono, who had earlier dispatched members of the presidential medical team to help with his medical check-up in Singapore last month, Antara news agency reported.

The Wednesday meeting took place only one month after Megawati visited the State Palace to receive the National Hero title best-owed on her father, the country’s first president, Sukarno.

Analysts have said that Megawati’s presence at the ceremony indicated the thawing of icy relations between the former president and the incumbent.

University of Indonesia political analyst Hamdi Muluk suggested that Taufiq and Puan’s visit could have long-term implications.

“Speculation is rife that Yudhoyono will have another Cabinet reshuffle soon. The visit could mean that SBY could give Puan a seat in the Cabinet. However, it could also mean that the PDI-P is seeking an alliance with the Democratic Party in the upcoming election,” Hamdi said on Wednesday.

Yudhoyono is looking for a candidate for youth and sports minister. Andi Mallarangeng left the post earlier this month, soon after being named a suspect by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in the Hambalang sports complex scandal.

Speculation is rife that Puan is at the top of the list of potential candidates for the position.

Puan brushed off the speculation, saying that her party would remain in the opposition camp.

“We will support any policy that favors the people, but until now, we remain consistent that the party will stay out of the government,” she said after the meeting as quoted by
kontan.co.id.

Hamdi said that the visit could in fact be one of Taufiq’s initiatives to repair relations between the PDI-P and the Democratic Party.

In 2009, Taufiq indicated that the PDI-P was interested in joining the Democratic Party’s ruling coalition.

The PDI-P abandoned the plan after Megawati called for it to be dropped.

Yudhoyono’s bitter rivalry with Megawati started when the former decided to run for the presidency in 2004 using the newly founded Democratic Party as his political base. Previously, Yudhoyono was one of Megawati’s most trusted aides and was even coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister in her Cabinet.

When Yudhoyono decided to compete with her head-to-head, their relationship turned sour. The rivalry also turned personal, with Taufiq once calling Yudhoyono a general who acted like a “child”.

Hamdi said that if Taufiq had his way, the conflict could soon be over. (yps/riz)

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