Agung Laksono, left, met with Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri, right, at her home in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Monday. (Antara Photo/Wahyu Putro)

Agung Tethers Golkar to PDI-P


MARCH 16, 2015

Jakarta. Agung Laksono on Monday continued to stage meetings with leaders from other parties, despite his reign at the helm of the Golkar Party still yet to be formally recognized by the government.

Agung met with Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri at her home in Menteng, Central Jakarta, during which he stated his party’s intention to join the government’s ruling coalition, which the PDI-P leads.

Agung had earlier met with National Democrat Party (NasDem) chairman Surya Paloh and the recently elected chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN), Zulkifli Hasan.

Golkar split in December, with one faction throwing its support behind Agung and the other remaining loyal to Aburizal Bakrie, the incumbent chairman.

Agung has criticized Aburizal for the party’s poor result in last April’s legislative elections as well as his support for former general Prabowo Subianto, who eventually lost the presidential race to Joko Widodo.

However, Aburizal refused to back down from his re-election bid, staging a national congress in Bali in November — months ahead of schedule.

The congress, which his rivals consider a sham, saw Aburizal re-elected for a second term.

A rival congress held in Ancol, North Jakarta, saw anti-Aburizal party members elect Agung as chief in early December.

Both sides agreed to settle the dispute through the party’s internal tribunal, which issued a decision last week.

But the tribunal’s rulings have proved controversial, with each faction drawing its own interpretations.

The tribunal issued a split decision, with two of the four judges ruling in favor of Agung, while the other two said the dispute should be settled by a court.

The PDI-P-led government has said it will accept the ruling issued by the two judges in favor of Agung.

At Monday’s meeting with Megawati, Agung openly expressed his desire to support the president, arguing that Aburizal’s leadership was the only reason Golkar emerged as an opposition party for the first time in its 50-year history.

Golkar, with 91 seats at the House, is the biggest party inside the opposition bloc, the Red White Coalition, or KMP. 

The switch could mean that the for the first time since President Joko Widodo took office last year, his ruling coalition will have a majority vote of 298 over the KMP’s 262.

Golkar, aside from securing the House speaker position, also has members chairing several House oversight commissions. 

Justice Minister Yasonna Laoly earlier said the government would immediately recognize Agung’s reign over Golkar after Agung finished formulating his national leadership board.

Agung on Monday said that he was still waiting for Aburizal’s response for a truce before submitting his structure to the government to validate.

“This is important for reconciliation [of Golkar]. We ask everyone to join in our structure,” he said.

“We have done all sorts of way to ensure that there will be a reconciliation, be it talking [to Aburizal’s supporters] directly or over the phone.”

According to Agung, several Golkar members who were originally loyal to Aburizal had switched sides.

“We have included [in our structure] names from the Bali congress like Airlangga Hartarto, Mahyuddin and Erwin Aksa,” he said. “We are expecting more.”

Agung said he had reserved a spot for Aburizal himself as chairman of Golkar’s advisory board.

Leo Nababan, the executive chairman of Agung’s version of Golkar, said there are at least 20 new names inside the party’s structure to accommodate former Aburizal supporters.

“Once [the structure] is finalized, we will submit it to the ministry of justice,” he said.

However Agung may oust legislators Ade Komarudin and Bambang Soesatyo, the current Golkar House caucus chairman and secretary general, and replace them with Agus Gumiwang and Fayakhun Andriadi, respectively.

Bambang on Monday said he would not betray Aburizal, calling former colleagues who had switched to Agung’s side “political whores.”

Aburizal’s camp has asked the Supreme Court to weigh in on the dispute, the worst in the party’s history.