Jakarta. The presiding judge in the ongoing dispute that has created a rift within the Golkar Party has refused to appear before the Jakarta State Administrative Court to explain in detail what the party’s internal tribunal had decided.
A four-member internal tribunal, chaired by former justice minister and Golkar stalwart Muladi, last month issued a split decision in a rivaling claim over the party’s chairmanship between Agung Laksono and incumbent Aburizal Bakrie.
Two of the judges, including Muladi, ruled that the feud should be settled in court while the other two recognize Agung as the legitimate chief of Indonesia’s oldest party.
Muladi on Monday refused to stand as a witness at the Administrative Court, known as PTUN, arguing that a court is not the venue to pass judgement on a ruling made by another judiciary body.
“As a former Supreme Court judge, I feel it is inappropriate that one of [Golkar’s internal tribunal] judges who has issued a ruling on a dispute is asked to testify at a PTUN hearing over the same case,” Muladi said in a letter addressed to the PTUN.
His statements were read at a PTUN hearing on Monday.
Muladi said that the tribunal has made its decision, “which is final and binding to all [Golkar members],” denying that its ruling has created two very differing interpretations.
“The decision was agreed and signed by all four internal tribunal judges,” he said.
Agung’s camp has interpreted the ruling as a victory, arguing that no judge has ruled against him.
Meanwhile Aburizal’s supporters considered the split ruling a draw and another court hearing is needed to settle the dispute once and for all.
Aburizal’s camp has lodged a motion with the PTUN to annul the Justice Ministry’s decision to recognize Agung’s reign following the tribunal’s ruling.
The PTUN has temporarily suspended the ministry’s decree until it has made a final verdict.
Both camps have consulted a slew of legal and political experts to back their respective claims.
On Monday, Agung’s camp brought in administrative affairs lawyer Lintong Siahaan, who called the tribunal’s ruling “unusual” but “valid.”
“The structure of the decision was unusual and different from professional judges, but it is still a verdict,” he told the Administrative Court.
Lintong pointed out that two judges had issued a decision and the other two abstained, which “is fine.”
“What matters is, all four judges signed off on the verdict,” he continued, arguing that the ruling of the first two judges should be implemented.
Former Constitutional Court judge Maruarar Siahaan also backed the interpretation.
“The other two judges never said [in the ruling] whether they rejected or disagreed with their peers,” he said.
Meanwhile, administrative affairs expert Margarito Kamis called the ruling “non-executable.”
“It is a draw. The tribunal favors neither Aburizal or Agung,” he said.
Long-simmering tensions within Golkar, fueled by dissatisfaction at Aburizal’s helmsmanship of the party and poor showings in last year’s elections, resulted in Indonesia’s once-dominant political machine splitting in two last December.
Agung’s camp blamed Aburizal for the party’s weaker-than-expected result in last April’s legislative elections as well as its failure, for the first time in its 50-year history, to nominate a presidential or vice presidential candidate in the July presidential election. Aburizal instead ended up endorsing the candidacy of Prabowo Subianto, who went on to lose to Joko Widodo.
Aburizal went on to win re-election in a party congress in Bali in December, which critics say was rigged from the outset. Days later, they held a rival congress in Ancol, North Jakarta, at which they elected Agung their chairman.
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