Golkar punishes pro-Jokowi dissidents
Margareth S. Aritonang
The Jakarta Post
The Golkar Party central board has penalized some of its politicians after they came out in support of the presidential bid of Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, who was nominated by rival the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
Some senior lawmakers will be stripped of their posts in key commissions at the House of Representatives.
On Monday, the leader of the Golkar Party faction at the House, Setya Novanto, revealed that senior lawmaker Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita had been removed from his position as deputy chairman of House Commission I, which oversees defense and foreign affairs, and had moved to Commission VIII overseeing religious and social affairs.
In Agus' place, Golkar appointed fellow Commission I member Tantowi Yahya, who was recently appointed spokesperson for the Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa campaign team.
Besides Agus, Golkar also moved young politician Nusron Wahid from House Commission XI, which oversees finance, banking and national development planning, to Commission VIII.
The central board is yet to decide what commission lawmaker Poempida Hidayatulloh will be moved to, following its decision to remove him from Commission IX overseeing manpower and transmigration.
Although Setya maintained that the decision was part of 'regular rotation to refresh the faction', many deem the move as punishment for their open support of Jokowi and his running mate, former vice president Jusuf Kalla, who is also a senior Golkar politician.
The decision was made only a week after Agus and Poempida arranged a press briefing to publicly declare their support for the Jokowi-Kalla ticket, challenging Golkar's decision to support the nomination of Prabowo, chief patron of the Gerindra Party and his running mate Hatta, a former coordinating economic minister and chair of the National Mandate Party (PAN).
Also present at the press briefing was head of Golkar's research and development department Indra J. Piliang.
Indra had quit after Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie warned that he would dismiss party members who had failed to implement party programs.
An internal rift ensued following Aburizal's eleventh hour decision to join Prabowo's camp after a Golkar national leadership meeting gave the party chairman the authority to determine the party's stance in the presidential election.
Only one day before Golkar officially declared its support for Prabowo on May 19, the party central board expressed confidence that Golkar would join the PDI-P coalition.
Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, a senior adviser to Aburizal and deputy head of the party's advisory council, was the first to announce his resignation following Aburizal's decision. Later on, several other party elites, including Fahmi Idris, also followed suit.
Kalla coolly responded to the purge.
'That's not unusual. It's alright. The tenure for current lawmakers will expire in four months so it will not have an impact,' Kalla told reporters on Tuesday.
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