Observers: Megawati’s PDI-P Ranks Leave a Lot to Be Desired
Jakarta. Observers have questioned the future quality of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P, after its national congress last week saw members deemed qualified sacked from the executive board while those whose credibility has been questioned now hold senior leadership positions.
Petrus Selestinus, the coordinator of non-governmental organization the Indonesian Democracy Defenders Team, listed Maruarar Sirait, Pramono Anung, Rieke Diah Pitaloka and Eva Kusuma Sundari as among the PDI-P politicians with good and clean track records who had not been appointed to any position in the party’s executive board for the entire 2015-20 period.
He said this was nothing new for the PDI-P, whose members agreed last week that former president Megawati Soekarnoputri should continue to lead the party for another five years, a role she has held since it was founded in 1998.
Observers have criticized the lack of healthy succession plans in the PDI-P, and accused Megawati of appointing only her loyalists to senior positions in the party. These include her daughter Puan Maharani, who stays on as head of the party’s political and security affairs, and son Prananda Prabowo as the head of the creative economy division.
“Maruarar Sirait … et cetera have been sacked from their prestigious positions in the PDI-P’s central executive board,” Petrus said in Jakarta on Sunday. “Instead, members suspected of having legal problems are included in the new structure.”
The arrest of PDI-P lawmaker Adriansyah by Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators during the party’s national congress in Bali last week should serve as a warning for the PDI-P if it insists on keeping people with potential legal problems in the executive ranks, Petrus said.
“We can predict that the PDI-P will face a leadership vacuum for the next year because most [of the executives] will face legal problems, including Megawati, Trimedya Panjaitan, Olly Dondokambey, Bambang D.H. and Idham Samawi,” he said.
Suspended KPK chief Abraham Samad last year said the antigraft body was planning to question Megawati for relieving several banks of having to repay bailout funds, which in most cases had been embezzled and taken out of the country, during her presidency in the early 2000s.
Abraham has been suspended after he was named a suspect over power abuse and document forgery cases in February, in what are widely believed to be part of attempts to criminalize KPK leaders after the KPK named National Police chief candidate Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan as a bribery suspect in January.
Budi is known to be close to Megawati, while some other critics accuse the criminalization attempts to be part of the PDI-P’s move to protect Megawati from the KPK’s inquiry plans.
Meanwhile, graft convict Muhammad Nazaruddin has accused Trimedya of involvement in rigging a contract to supply driving simulators to the police.
In a separate trial last year, Olly was identified as among the recipients of kickbacks from a similarly graft-ridden project to build a sports training complex.
Bambang, for his part, has been named a graft suspect by the East Java Police after allegedly receiving gratuities while serving as the mayor of Surabaya, while Idham has been charged with the misuse of public funds for a local football club in Bantul district, Yogyakarta, during his terms as district chief from 1999 to 2010.
Megawati, meanwhile, made it clear while speaking at the party congress last week that she wanted all PDI-P members, including legislators and the president, to always remember they belonged to the party.
She dismissed critics warning her against forcing President Joko Widodo — a junior member of the PDI-P — to act as a party servant, saying it would harm the president’s integrity and might cost the PDI-P votes in the 2019 legislative elections.
“All of you — members of the PDI-P in the House of Representatives, regional legislator, district heads, mayors, governors, all the way to the President — are officers of the party,” Megawati said during her speech on the closing day of the congress on Saturday. “If you don’t want to be called party officers, please leave,” she added.
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