Golkar Tight-Lipped on Setya’s Replacement as House Speaker

House of Representatives Speaker Setya Novanto has been hospitalized following a solo car crash on Thursday night (16/11), mere hours after making his first public statement regarding a warrant for his arrest in the e-KTP corruption case. (Antara Photo/Sigid Kurniawan)

By : Markus Junianto Sihaloho | on 4:08 PM December 17, 2015
Category : News, Politics, Featured, Corruption

Jakarta. The Golkar Party has decided on a replacement for the disgraced Setya Novanto as speaker of the House of Representatives, politicians say, but is refusing to give a name just yet.

Setya submitted his resignation on Wednesday evening, just as the House of Representatives’ Ethics Council was about to issue a verdict in a tribunal centering on allegations that he attempted to shake down mining giant Freeport Indonesia for an estimated $4 million worth of shares.

Under House regulations, the new speaker must be appointed by the party of the previous one, in this case Golkar.

Firman Soebagyo, a deputy chairman of the Golkar caucus at the House, told reporters on Thursday that the party’s central leadership board had convened a meeting on Wednesday night to discuss the matter.

“They decided on a replacement a last night’s meeting,” he said.

However, he refused to say who the new candidate for speaker was, citing a prohibition on naming a replacement until official notification of Setya’s withdrawal from the speaker’s post was issued to the party.

Fadel Muhammad, another Golkar legislator and chairman of the House oversight commission on foreign and defense affairs, hinted separately that he might be in the running for the top legislative post.

Fadel told reporters that Golkar had its own rules about who was eligible to stand as House speaker; among them, that they should be a deputy chairman of the party.

“[That includes] me, Aziz Syamsuddin and Ade Komaruddin,” he said.

Aziz chairs the House oversight commission on legal affairs, while Ade serves as chairman of the Golkar caucus at the House.

Fadel conspicuously left out two other Golkar deputy chairs who also serve at the House: Rambe Kamarul Zaman and Siti Hediati Hariyadi, better known as Titiek Suharto, the second daughter of the late strongman Suharto.

A source inside the party, who asked not to be named, told the Jakarta Globe that Titiek was theoretically in the running, but that Ade was the most likely candidate to be the next House speaker.

The race for the speaker’s post comes after Setya’s last-minute and unexpected resignation, which prompted the House Ethics Council to conclude its two-week tribunal without a formal verdict. The council had been slated to rule on a punishment after 15 of its 17 members found Setya guilty of ethical misconduct.

Setya and his associate, oilman Muhammad Riza Chalid, are accused of trying to shake down Freeport Indonesia chief executive Maroef Sjamsuddin for a 20 percent stake in the copper and gold miner, valued at an estimated $4 billion.

Maroef secretly recorded the conversation during a meeting in June, but it was only last month that Sudirman Said, the energy minister, submitted a copy of the recording, along with a transcript, to the House Ethics Council when filing a complaint against Setya.

In exchange for the shares, the recording indicates, Setya and Riza promised to speed up the miner’s contract extension negotiations with the government before the 2019 start date, suggesting that chief security minister Luhut Pandjaitan was the linchpin.

Riza fled the country in the wake of the revelation, while Maroef and Sudirman have been cooperating with the Attorney General’s Office as it seeks to initiate a criminal inquiry. Luhut, meanwhile, has played down the extortion attempt as just a joke.

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