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Jakarta Post

PDI-P tastes early resistance at House

Margareth S. Aritonang and Ina Parlina (The Jakarta Post)
Jakarta   ●   Wed, July 9, 2014

Lawmakers have decided a voting mechanism to select the next speaker of the House of Representatives, instead of automatically granting the position to the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which secured the largest number of votes in the 2014 legislative election.

The increasing demand for a change to the manner of selection for the House'€™s next speaker has been included in the revision of an internal regulation, the Legislative Institution Law, known as MD3.

According to critics, the revision would decrease the House'€™s performance in the future, instead of improving it as claimed by lawmakers.

A plenary meeting discussing such a revision on Tuesday witnessed a heated debate among lawmakers, who apparently divided into two groups based on the coalitions supporting the two presidential candidates contesting the election on Wednesday.

PDI-P lawmakers suspected that the increased demand to change the procedure aimed to resist the party'€™s influence in the next House and the sharpened rivalry between the party'€™s presidential ticket, Joko Widodo-Jusuf Kalla and Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa, who are supported by six political parties including the Golkar Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

'€œIt is clear to us that [the revision] aims to attack the PDI-P, which should automatically hold the position of next House speaker. We had earlier agreed to raise a discussion due to the revision after the election in order to avoid political interest from each member of our party,'€ PDI-P lawmaker Eva Kusuma Sundari told the meeting.

Lawmaker Abdul Malik Haramain from the National Awakening Party (PKB), one of four political parties within the PDI-P-led coalition, also raised similar concerns, emphasizing that '€œthe will for power is obviously reflected through the demand for change to the mechanism to select the next House speaker.'€

With the absence of the lawmakers from PDI-P and its two allies PKB and the People'€™s Conscience Party (Hanura), who left the meeting after a deadlock, the remaining factions passed the revisions on the law.

The result of the legislative election last April showed that there was no dominant party in this year'€™s legislative election, which differs from the 2009 election that saw the ruling Democratic Party secure 150 seats of the total 560 seats in the House.

The PDI-P, which secured only 109 seats in the legislative election, will lose the vote to select the new House speaker should the House approve such a mechanism, even with the combined legislative strength of all the parties in its coalition '€” the NasDem Party, the PKB and the Hanura Party '€” with a total of 207 seats.

Separately, Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin said that the House has the final say.

'€œThe government is not in a position to meddle with the House'€™s authority, which has no connection with the government,'€ said Amir, who is also a senior Democratic Party politician.

In late May, the court ruled that the House did not have the authority to specifically allocate any state funds for '€œactivities and types of spending'€ to help prevent corrupt practices amid a number of the House'€™s budgetary members facing graft charges.

Legal activist Ronald Rofiandri from the Center of Indonesian Legal and Policies Studies (PSHKI) called on the lawmakers to postpone the deliberation of the bill, which critics have said would shut off public monitoring and accountability if approved.

'€œThe deliberation process and the materials of the proposed revision are setbacks,'€ he said.