The Jakarta Post
The Golkar Party is reportedly divided over whether the political dynasty of Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah should retain its control of the party's leadership in the province.
The party will hold an extraordinary regional meeting (Musdalub) on Friday to decide who will replace deceased Hikmat Tomet as chairman of the party's Banten chapter (DPD).
Hikmat, who died on Nov. 9, was the husband of Ratu Atut, who was recently arrested by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in a bribery case.
Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie reportedly supports the candidacy of Ratu Atut's sister, Tatu Chasanah, the Serang deputy regent, to replace Hikmat.
Several members of the party's top brass, however, rejected the idea, saying that Atut's family was currently 'under a political storm'. 'No need to become DPD chairman. [...] Just put an end to the storm,' senior Golkar leader Fadel Muhammad said referring to Tatu's candidacy.
Chairman of the Golkar Party's Advisory Council, Akbar Tandjung, concurred with Fadel, arguing that party members in Banten should not make Golkar a family party.
'We have to learn from what Golkar has experienced. The experience teaches us lessons. The lessons should become our reference for [a better] future for the Golkar leadership. The party leadership in Banten gives political lessons to people in order [for us] to be better in the future,' Akbar said on Thursday.
Akbar said he preferred to support Cilegon Mayor Iman Ariyadi to be elected in the Musdalub, while Fadel is backing Golkar lawmaker Tubagus Ace Hasan Syadzily.
Atut's family's web of power in the province had benefited the party since she became deputy governor in 2002, making the position of Atut's family important for the Golkar Party. However, the arrest of Atut has tarnished the image of Golkar in Banten, sparking internal discourse on whether or not Atut's family members should chair the vacant position left by Hikmat.
Members of Atut's family control five of Banten's eight regencies and municipalities, including Tatu, her daughter-in-law, Airin Rachmi Diany, the South Tangerang mayor; her stepbrother Tubagus Haerul Jaman, who serves as Serang's mayor and her stepmother Heryani, the Pandeglang deputy regent, all of whom are Golkar politicians.
Banten, a province with 10 million inhabitants, is seen as one of Golkar's strongholds in the upcoming election. In 2009, the party garnered only 14 percent of the vote in the province, second to the Democratic Party (PD), which garnered 22 percent. But support for the party is growing due to Ratu Atut's influence and the declining popularity of the ruling party.
Separately, Golkar Party's central board (DPP) chairman Hajriyanto Y. Thohari said that what had happened among party dignitaries were not rifts 'but merely differences of opinion' on the current political situation in Banten after the arrest of Atut.
'[The different opinions] will not influence the result of the Musdalub because we believe that all local representatives of Golkar in Banten know what they are going to do. They will choose the right chairperson for them because they have in-depth knowledge of the political situation in Banten,' the deputy speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
He said that the Golkar Party would not be favoring particular candidates running for specific positions during the Musdalub, including the candidacy of Tatu.
The KPK named Atut a suspect last week for her role in the bribery case involving former Constitutional Court (MK) chief justice Akil Mochtar to rule in favor of Lebak deputy regent Amir Hamzah, who was backed by the Golkar Party. Lebak is one of Banten's regencies in which Atut has little influence. Amir lost the election to Iti Octavia, who also comes from a prominent political family in the province.