Jakarta. The rift inside the Golkar Party reached a new height on Monday with the party’s House of Representatives, or DPR, caucus office turning into a dramatic scene.
Incumbent caucus officials reportedly locked the office, located on the 12th floor of the House’s Nusantara I building, forcing their successors to call in House security officials and a locksmith to open the doors.
The incumbents barricaded the doors with furniture, while other entrances were replaced with dry wall.
The main door was eventually unlocked by a locksmith, and the new caucus officials were able to enter the office.
Jakarta Metro Police chief Insp. Gen. Unggung Cahyono attended the scene to ensure the incident didn’t turn violent.
“I see that everything is alright,” the two star general said.
“I will let the security guards take it from here. I just came to make sure that everyone is safe and the guards don’t take sides.”
Golkar split in December, with one faction throwing its support behind Agung Laksono and the other remaining loyal to Aburizal Bakrie, the incumbent chairman.
Both men claimed to be the rightful chairman, but the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights endorsed Agung’s reign.
Agung has threatened to replace Aburizal loyalists in the legislature, including Ade Komarudin, the current chairman of the Golkar caucus, and his secretary general, Bambang Soesatyo.
Agung said his camp had informed the House on Monday that Ade and Bambang were being demoted from their positions as caucus chairman and secretary, and that they would be replaced by Agus Gumiwang and Fayakhun Andriadi, respectively.
Ade and Bambang were given until Sunday to clear out their desks.
Golkar lawmaker and Agung loyalist Melchias Markus Mekeng said Ade cooperated and voluntarily gave the key to his office to his replacement Agus on Sunday.
But upon visiting the caucus office the following day, Mekeng found the doors locked.
Bambang was using the office to stage a press conference along with four other Aburizal supporters when the incident occurred. Bambang argued that the party’s conference in Jakarta, which saw Agung elected chairman, was a sham and that participants were bribed to attend the congress and vote for Agung.
The press conference, however, was cut short when shouting was reportedly heard from the outside telling those in the office to open the door.
To the dozens of journalists attending the press conference Bambang gave a different account, saying that the doors were locked from the outside.
“The doors to the emergency exits were locked and guarded by unknown people,” he said.
Agus, Fayakhun and Mekeng arrived a short moment later in the lobby with another group of journalists.
While denying it was his colleagues who had locked the doors, Bambang said he was the one who called the police.
“The legitimate caucus chairman is Ade Komarudin,” he said.
Bambang claimed he phoned National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti who then instructed Unggung to attend the scene.
Meanwhile Fayakhun said that the doors were locked from the inside.
“We knocked the doors and waited for 15 minutes,” he said.
Fayakhun claimed he wanted to politely ask Ade and Bambang to leave quietly.
However, Ade, Bambang and two other legislators — Slamet Rasyid and Adhi Massardi — refused to open the door.
Mekeng then called the House secretariat’s office asking for security and a locksmith. The standoff lasted for about an hour.
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Agung’s deputy Yorrys Raweyai said the incident has forced his camp to not only relieve Ade and Bambang from their current caucus post but also revoked their status as lawmakers.
“What [Ade and Bambang] did is unethical and does not reflect how a Golkar member should behave,” he said.
“We will take firm action. [Ade and Bambang] will be fired [from Golkar].”
Separately, Aburizal’s supporters claimed Agus Gumiwang, the incoming caucus chairman, has already been fired from Golkar based on a decision made by Aburizal before the Golkar split occurred.
Agus was reported to the National Police for document forgery, trespassing, property damage and shouting “unpleasant words.”
Agung’s camp has filed a police report against Ade and Bambang for trespassing and illegally occupying the caucus office.
National Police Comr. Gen. Budi Waseso promised to maintain impartiality and professionalism, treating both complaints with equal care and measure.
State administrative affairs expert Asep Warlan Yusuf of Parahyangan University said that from a legal standpoint, Agung’s camp has the right to replace Ade and Bambang with one of their own.
“Although [Agung’s reign] is legitimate, they should not create more drama inside the House. They should be patient and not conduct any reshuffle before Aburizal exhausts his legal options,” he said.
Abdul Fickar Hadjar, a legal expert from Trisakti University said Agung is the legitimate Golkar chairman “until there is a court order reversing the ministry decision.”
“So before the court makes a ruling on the matter [Agung] should not do any reshuffle inside the parliament,” he said.
Agung’s deputy Yorrys said his camp does not wish for a painful transition or to fire anyone from Golkar.
“But [Ade and Bambang] continue to air statements and make moves which are inhibit moves for a reconciliation [between both camps],” he said.
Meanwhile Mekeng said at the House, Aburizal loyalists continue to dwindle.
“Almost 70 people,” Mekeng said of the Golkar lawmakers pledging support for Agung’s rule.
“But some are willing to openly admit it and some are not.”
Legal expert Fickar predicted that the power struggle will only end if the State Administrative Court confirms the ministry’s decision to recognize Agung’s reign.
Previous splits inside the Golkar party have given birth to many political parties, most notably the Democratic Party, the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and the National Democratic Party (Nasdem).