Eight of the 10 political parties in the House of Representatives want an explanation from the president about why he canceled Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan nomination for police chief. (JG Photo/Afriadi Hikmal)

House: Joko Must Explain Why He Dropped Budi

APRIL 01, 2015

Jakarta. Eight of the 10 political parties in the House of Representatives have demanded an explanation from President Joko Widodo on his decision to cancel the nomination of Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan as National Police chief before they will agree to vet his replacement.

Only the National Mandate Party (PAN) and National Democrat Party (NasDem) officially requested a confirmation hearing be conducted immediately for Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti, currently the deputy chief of the National Police, so he can be confirmed as the new chief.

“We support Badrodin, because the National Police has long been without a leader. [Badrodin’s nomination] must be processed immediately,” PAN deputy chairman Mulfachri Harahap said before a House plenary session on Wednesday.

The National Police have been without a leader since Joko forced its previous chief, Gen. Sutarman, into early retirement in January, in favor of his own pick, Budi.

However, Budi’s nomination caused a massive public outcry due to his alleged involvement in corruption between 2004 and 2006.

Joko subsequently canceled Budi’s nomination despite the House endorsing his choice.

“We support Badrodin Haiti [as police chief] and encourage the House to expedite [his nomination] process,” NasDem secretary general Patrice Rio Capella said.

But NasDem also wants Budi to occupy Badrodin’s current post as deputy police chief.

Rio said his party did not wish to prolong the political fracas created by Budi’s nomination.

“We hope the country’s best interest is put before all else, so we can move on and focus on other issues that are important to the nation,” he said.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which has long supported Budi’s nomination, said it wanted to hear the president’s explanation on canceling Budi’s nomination first.

“We are fine with Badrodin Haiti [becoming police chief]. What we question is why Budi Gunawan was not inaugurated when his nomination had been approved by the House,” veteran PDI-P politician Trimedya Panjaitan said.

Trimedya said Joko’s decision to cancel Budi’s nomination was disrespectful of the House and could upset ties between the State Palace and the legislature. “The president should have some manners,” he said.

Budi served as a security aide to PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri during her time as president from 2001 to 2004.

Trimedya said he was perfectly aware that the president had told the media that the cancelation was due to the massive public rejection of Budi, who at one time was named a graft suspect, to become the country’s top law enforcer.

But he said the president should explain this in an official letter to the House before naming Badrodin as a replacement candidate.

Dossy Iskandar Prasetyo of the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura) shared the sentiment, saying that had the president given an official explanation, Badrodin’s nomination “would have been approved immediately.”

Horse trading

Nico Harjanto, of the Populi Center think tank, said that as a member of the president’s ruling coalition, the PDI-P had no right to pressure or even question Joko, who is also a PDI-P member, and his prerogative to pick whoever he liked as police chief.

Nico said he suspected that the PDI-P wanted something in return from Joko.

“They could want more seats in [Joko’s] cabinet,” he said.

Lucius Karus, a senior researcher at the group Concerned Citizens for the Indonesian Legislature (Formappi), said the House was not purely seeking an explanation.

“The real motivation is to buy time,” he said, adding that there was bound to be some political horse trading between the parties and the president.

House leaders are seeking a private meeting with the president on the matter.

The State Palace said it would grant the request but sent Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo and chief security minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno on Wednesday to conduct preliminary talks.

The two ministers arrived at the House building in South Jakarta at around 9 a.m. on Wednesday. The meeting took place behind closed doors and the ministers refused to divulge details before reporting back to the president.

“What is clear is that we are trying to find time [for the House leaders to meet the president],” Tedjo said.

The House leaders will likely meet the president today or on Monday next week.

Joko “is busy making preparations for the Asia Africa Conference,” the security minister said.

Aziz Syamsudin, chairman of House Commission III, which is tasked with vetting Badrodin, said there had not been any schedule for the vetting to take place.