Constitutional law expert Yusril Ihza Mahendra will advise the Joko "Jokowi" Widodo-Ma'ruf Amin presidential-election campaign team.
Jokowi cited Yusril's track record as the reason for requesting the expert, who is also the chairman of the Crescent Star Party (PBB)--one of the parties participating in the 2019 general election--as the legal advisor for his reelection campaign.
"We know that [Yusril] is a professional," Jokowi told reporters on Tuesday.
Arya Sinulingga, spokesperson for the Jokowi-Ma'ruf campaign team, said on Monday that Yusril had agreed to provide legal services for the pair for free.
The team acknowledged Yusril's expertise in politics and constitutional law based on his past experience in handling disputes filed with the Constitutional Court, the General Elections Commission (KPU) and the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), Arya said.
"There is no doubt about [Yusril's] expertise," Arya told reporters on Monday. "Despite his affiliation to a certain political party [the Crescent Star Party], he can fulfill his role as a professional."
In the past, Yusril's legal work has been affiliated with political party figures. He was appointed as Golkar Party lawyer on behalf of Aburizal Bakrie during the internal dispute regarding the party leadership in late 2014.
When the Subianto Prabowo-Hatta Rajasa pair lost to Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla in the 2014 presidential election and challenged the result to the Constitutional Court, Yusril provided testimony on the former’s behalf during the hearing.
On Monday, Yusril revealed that he had been offered the position a long time ago by Erick Thohir, the leader of Jokowi's campaign team. However, he only confirmed his answer during a meeting with Erick on Sunday in Jakarta.
Yusril said that he would provide legal services for the candidate pair as his clients. "If there is any violation of [Jokowi-Ma'ruf's] rights, such as hate speech against them, I will defend them and reveal the facts."
The constitutional law expert, however, asserted that he was not part of the Jokowi-Ma'ruf campaign team. "I am a professional lawyer outside the [team] structure."
Yusril is also the lawyer for Muslim group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) and he led the lawsuit against the government's instruction to revoke the HTI's legal-entity status and disband the organization in 2017.
To date, he still maintains his stance in defending the HTI and assisted the group in filing an appeal against the Jakarta State Administrative Court (PTUN) decision to reject the HTI's petition. (afr/swd)