The Jakarta Post
Political parties in Prabowo Subianto's Red-and-White Coalition have warned their members against following in the footsteps of Jakarta Deputy Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama, who gave up his Gerindra Party membership to voice opposition to the party's support of scrapping the direct election of local heads.
Executives of the parties demanded their members toe the party line in supporting the proposal to bring back indirect elections for local heads through local legislative councils.
'We have a clear rule on this. We won't compromise. All members must support the party's stance or leave us,' Golkar Party deputy secretary-general Tantowi Yahya said Wednesday.
Separately, Hidayat Nur Wahid, a senior executive of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and leader of the party's faction at the House of Representatives, said that the Muslim-based party would apply the same method against rebellious members.
'Golkar imposes strict punishments on [rebellious] members and so does the PKS,' Hidayat said.
On Wednesday, Ahok tendered his resignation to Gerindra's central executive board in protest against the party's support of reinstating indirect elections for local heads.
'The Gerindra Party seems to be adamant [...] I had the resignation letter delivered to the central executive board by members of my staff today. I decided to do this because to me, what Gerindra's fighting for is not consistent with my principle of giving people the best option. I won't support the party's policy, as I was obliged to, if it means regional heads will be slaves to the councilors,' Ahok told reporters at City Hall.
Gerindra executives were quick to denounce Ahok.
'Ahok doesn't know anything about [political] parties. It's unethical for him to abandon the party. He is just looking for reasons [to jump ship],' Gerindra deputy chairman Fadli Zon said.
Fadli, however, added that Gerindra respected Ahok's decision no matter how 'disappointing' it was.
Prabowo said that Ahok had not personally approached him to discuss his move, but that it was his prerogative to quit the party.
Meanwhile, Gerindra's Jakarta branch chairman, M. Taufik, furiously responded to Ahok's move, saying it would not significantly impact the party.
'He [Ahok] hasn't done anything impressive for the party. Gerindra will move on without him,' Taufik said.
Besides Gerindra, Golkar and the PKS, the Red-and-White Coalition also includes the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the United Development Party (PPP).
The five parties, along with the Democratic Party, has endorsed what could be seen as an 'undemocratic' system in the election of regional leaders by granting regional legislative councils (DPRDs) the power to select candidates through a bill on regional elections. The House is expected to endorse the bill on Sept. 25.
The deliberation of the controversial bill has triggered protests nationwide over concerns that such an election system could take the country back to the New Order era.
Approaching the deadline for the bill's deliberation, activists have initiated a civil movement, encouraging critics of the bill to send messages to PAN lawmaker Abdul Hakam Naja, who heads a working committee in charge of the deliberation, to demand that the plan be dropped.
Critics of the bill also called for populist Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil to follow Ahok's move and reject the endorsement.
Meanwhile on Wednesday evening, executives of parties within the Red-and-White Coalition gathered at the residence of Golkar's advisory council chairman, Akbar Tandjung, to further consolidate their stance in the deliberation of the crucial bill.
If approved, the Red-and-White Coalition, which controls the majority of seats at the House and local legislative councils, would be able to nominate and elect local heads of its choice.
Earlier, the coalition challenged an internal mechanism within the House that would allow it to control decision-making in the legislative body.
The coalition has endorsed a voting mechanism in the selection of the House speaker through a revision of the Legislative Institutions Law ( MD3 ), which is aimed at preventing the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) from directly securing the position as the winner of the legislative election.