End of the drama at Golkar’s National Congress: Bamsoet withdraws, Airlangga General Chairman

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(Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – The peak of the struggle for general chairmanship (Ketum) of the Golkar Party was determined at the National Conference at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Jakarta, 4-6 December 2019.  The anticipated fierce competition of the Golkar Ketum candidates between Airlangga Hartarto and Bambang Soesatyo ended up in an anti-climax. Bamsoet, as he is called, the one who stated that he was ready to compete with Airlangga at the National Conference, declared his withdrawal from the Golkar general chairmanship candidacy, 3.5 hours before the opening of the 10th Golkar National Congress.

The statement was submitted by Bamsoet after holding a meeting with Airlangga and two Golkar seniors, namely, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan and Aburizal Bakrie, at the Maritime Affairs Coordinating Ministry office in Jakarta, Tuesday (12/03/2019). Under the pretext of maintaining Golkar’s solidity and integrity, the Chairperson of the Indonesian People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) said that he was combining the support of his supporters into one with those of his rival the incumbent general chairman.

Bamsoet’s resignation as Airlangga’s strongest rival certainly paved the way for Airlangga, who is also the Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs in Jokowi-Amin’s Cabinet. No wonder the Senior Golkar Party member, Jusuf Kalla (JK) asked all Golkar chairperson candidates to proceed peacefully. Besides, he asked Golkar’s chairperson candidates not to use money politics to win. “Don’t burn money like in the past, but just make peace,” said JK in the public discussion at Ambhara Hotel, Jakarta, Tuesday (12/03/2019).

Requested retreat
Golkar politician Ahmadi Noor Supit said before the meeting at Luhut’s office, there was a meeting between the Airlangga camp and the Bamsoet camp. The person who brought the two camps together was allegedly an envoy of President Joko Widodo. The meeting was held at a restaurant around Blok M, South Jakarta, on Tuesday (03/12/2019). Through this envoy, President Jokowi asked Bambang to resign so as there would be no division within Golkar. “The president fears this party will split up if it continues,” said he as the head of Bamsoet’s winning team.

Bamsoet loyalist Darul Siska confirmed the meeting. He made sure Airlangga and Bamsoet attended the meeting before leaving for Luhut’s office. “Of course he (Bamsoet) was present; Airlangga too. And there were several other friends”. He said, aside from advice from seniors, there was political pressure behind Bamsoet’s withdrawal. “Yes, of course, the political pressure as Pak Jokowi calls it, is in the greater interest of the nation’s economic interests. Finally, Pak Bambang, with a big heart, resigned,” he added.

Unfortunately, Bamsoet denied meeting with the president’s envoy. “Who was the messenger? No, nothing,” Bamsoet said. Not only that, but President Jokowi also denied his intervention in the Golkar National Congress. “Nothing. I give assurances, nothing,” Jokowi said when delivering remarks at the opening ceremony of the Golkar National Congress on Tuesday (12/03/2019).

According to Jokowi, even if there were ministers who intervened to gather the regional representatives (DPD) ahead of the Golkar National Conference, the ministers would be none other than those from Golkar themselves. “It could be Mr. Agus (Agus Gumiwang) or Mr. Zainuddin Amali, or Mr. Jerry Sambuaga,” Jokowi said. “Or Pak Luhut, it could be,” he continued.

A political observer at Al Azhar Indonesia University (UAI), Ujang Komarudin said, it was too naive to reject the role of Jokowi in the Golkar National Congress. He strongly suspected that Bamsoet would not back down without pressure and intervention from many parties. “Bamsoet also resigned in front of Mr. Luhut. It is too easy to note. If everyone disputes it, it means it is true. If it is not true, it will not be denied,” Ujang said.

According to him, it is no longer a secret that the government always intervenes in who will become the General Chairman of Golkar. “It’s a lie if there is no intervention. If there is no pressure and intervention Bambang Soesatyo will not back down. And if there is no intervention many Golkar cadres will take part. Because there is intervention, we already know who will be the general chairman,” said Ujang.

As previously known, Bamsoet’s determination to compete against Airlangga in the Golkar National Congress was inseparable from the failure of the Bamsoet supporters to hold key positions in the committees in the DPR. The Bamsoet camp accused Airlangga of breaking promises because he did not facilitate Bamsoet supporters to become the chairman of the committees. Amused by the Airlangga-Bamsoet dispute, Deputy Chair of the Committee IV of the Parliament, Dedi Mulyadi said he was ready to resign and give the position to Bamsoet’s supporters. “I am Deputy Chairperson of Committee IV, if the chair is good for compromise, please. I am willing to resign for the interests of the party,” said the former Purwakarta Regent, last November.

Pancasila Ideology
The red string of Bamsoet’s withdrawal, who smoothen out the election of Airlangga by acclamation and the issue of meddling by Jokowi, was read in the recommendations of the Golkar’s chairperson in its accountability report, in line with the Jokowi-Amin’s government which intensified Pancasila ideology and eradication of radicalism.

This former Minister of Industry said that Golkar in the coming period would engage in social innovation. He recommended that the establishment of the Pancasila ideology should be programmed to strengthen the basis of the Golkar Party in the regions. “The establishment of the Pancasila ideology must be a superior program to prevent the development of anti-Pancasila such as radicalism and intolerant attitudes in the community, especially among young people as defenders and practitioners of Pancasila. “It is time for the Golkar Party to fight for the birth of regulations on strengthening Pancasila ideology,” he said. Then he said that he would strengthen the basis of the Golkar Party amid society, that it needed consolidation up to the village level, and formulate community-based strategies.

The next recommendation is to fight for the revision of the Election Law. The revision of the Election Law is aimed to separate the legislative and presidential elections. Besides, Golkar will also fight for the improvement of the electoral system. “As well as improving the electoral system that opens up opportunities for the Golkar Party’s victory in the upcoming elections. Included with a closed proportional system, said Airlangga.

The Golkar’s Party Chairman for Media Opinion, Ace Hasan Syadzily said the reason for Airlangga’s re-election as the Golkar Chairperson was because of regional views (DPD) and the Golkar wing organization were unanimously expressing support for Airlangga. At present, there were two general chairperson candidates namely, Airlangga Hartarto and Ridwan Hisjam.

This Airlangga Loyalist said that all voters expressed support for Airlangga as candidates for the general chair. “If there are no other candidates who can reach 30 percent, it can’t continue,” Ace said. There are 560 valid voters in the Golkar National Congress. The details, 34 Regional Leadership Council level I (province), 514 DPD level II (district/city), 1 DPP vote, 1 vote Board of Trustees, and 10 party wing organizations. (Dan)