The Jakarta Post
Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie has brushed off a spate of criticism against the political dynasty of Golkar politician and Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah, saying such a web of power brings political benefits for the party.
Aburizal, also nominated as Golkar's presidential candidate, said there was nothing wrong with Atut's political dynasty in Banten, despite allegations she abused her power to help her relatives win local elections.
Many have pointed fingers at Atut and dozens of her relatives - some of whom are regents and members of regional representative councils (DPDs) - following the arrest of Atut's brother, Tubagus Chaeri Wardana, for allegedly bribing the now former Constitutional Court chief justice Akil Mochtar. Wardana is the husband of South Tangerang Mayor Airin Rachmi Diany.
Aburizal claimed corruption had nothing to do with the creation of a political dynasty, which he said could actually benefit the party. 'As long as it is good for the party then go head. The problem is not the political dynasty. What is the point of not having a dynasty if unlawful acts keep happening?' he said.
Ratu Atut and her relatives who sat in political positions in Banten, were good leaders, Aburizal said, because they had been elected by the people via elections. Aburizal said there had been so many good things about Ratu Atut's political dynasty but they were overshadowed by the alleged corruption cases.
'In politics, it is normal to see people liking or disliking a leader. In the Banten case, those who dislike Atut's family are only a small amount of Banten people,' he said, adding Ratu Atut could not be deemed guilty despite the travel ban imposed upon her by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
The hegemony of Atut's family in Banten has been seen as a symbol of the return of Golkar's domination in the province. In the 2009 legislative elections, Golkar only gained the second most votes in the province after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party (PD).
But the cases implicating Ratu Atut's family members could undermine Golkar's efforts to regain a grip in the regions, given the upcoming legislative elections that are around six months away.
Aburizal claimed Golkar's electability in Banten would remain high. 'I believe the Banten people still love Atut,' he said.
The bribery scandal implicating Ratu Atut had apparently been used by Golkar's rivals to regain votes in the province ahead of the elections. Golkar has become a target of criticism because of the scandal.
Scathing criticism came from Yudhoyono, the chairman of the PD, regardless of the fact that Golkar is a member of the government coalition. Days after the arrests of Akil and Wardana, Yudhoyono said it was 'inappropriate' for Atut to build a network allowing members of her clan to build a political dynasty in Banten.
Golkar politicians hit back at the President. 'Yudhoyono should have looked in the mirror before making such statements. He is the chairman of the PD while his son, Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono, is secretary-general. 15 of his relatives will contest the upcoming legislative elections. Isn't that an attempt to build a political dynasty too?' said Golkar lawmaker Bambang Soesatyo said.
Golkar executive Nudirman Munir said the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) had also attempted to gain benefit from the case. The PDI-P wanted to see Atut ousted from the Banten governor position so Deputy Governor Rano Karno, a PDI-P member, could be installed as governor, Nudirman said.