IO, Jakarta – Zulkifli Hasan (“Zulhas”) has been re-elected as the General Chairman of the National Mandate Party (Partai Amanat Nasional – “PAN”) for the 2020-2025 term, in a session held at the PAN Congress V in Kendari, Southeast Sulawesi, on Tuesday (11/02/2020). He bested his two rivals with 331 votes, with his opponent Mulfachri gaining 225 votes, Dradjad Wibowo 6 and 3 invalid votes. “Reciting “Bismillaahirrahmanirrohim” (“In the name of Allah the Most Gentle and Most Merciful”), my brother Zulkifli Hasan is hereby reelected as the General Chairman of PAN,” declared Steering Committee member Totok Daryanto.
The voting was initially planned for Tuesday (11/02/2020) night. However, it was brought ahead after a riot broke out between supporters of Zulkifli Hasan and those backing Mulfachri Harahap in the Plenary Meeting. Unlike previous Congresses, the recent voting was openly carried out, with votes cast in voting booths. Those eligible to vote in the Congress include the Chairmen and Secretaries of PAN’s Regional Leadership Councils (at provincial level), the Chairmen of Regional Leadership Councils (at regency/municipal level), the Chairman and Secretary of PAN’s Deliberations Council, the General Chairman, the General Secretary, the General Treasurer, and the Chairmen of PAN’s six autonomous organizations.
Initially, there were four candidates for General Chairman in this year’s Congress. Nearing the elections, however, one withdrew his candidacy: Asman Abnur declared his “closeness with Zulhas” are the reason for his decision to stop his candidacy. As he left, he freed the participants of PAN’s Congress V with voting rights, as to whether they would choose to elect Zulhas or not. “Everyone here knows how close I am to Brother Zul. However, I will leave the voters to make their own decision,” Asman stated in the Meeting nearing the election of PAN’s General Chairman for 2020-2025.
A riot ensued
The latest PAN Congress was marred by a riot, when supporters of opposing candidates confronted each other: attendees threw bottles and chairs at each other in the Congress’ arena. Field Coordinator for the Election of Mulfachri Harahap, Muh. Asri Anas, stated that up to 30 of his supporters had been injured, most sustaining wounds on their heads and shoulders. According to Asri Analyses, the riot started when one of the supporting factions asked that the Meeting Room be cleared of those participants without voting rights, in line with the rules agreed upon in the forum. “However, many of them refused to leave the room. Consequently, a physical altercation ensued, resulting in some 30 injured and bleeding victims on our side,” he said.
Amid the heated atmosphere, former PAN General Chairman Hatta Rajasa took it upon himself to cool down the fight. He stood up and led the Dzuhur or midday prayers in the Room with Zulkifli Hasan, Asman Abnur, and Dradjad H. Wibowo as his makmum or prayer followers.
Following the altercation, the Regional Police of Southeast Sulawesi arrested three men who allegedly started the whole thing. Director of the General Crime Investigation Unit of this precinct, Senior Police Commissioner La Ode Aries El Fatar, stated that they had been detained and charged with disorderly conduct and physical abuse.
Zulhas won, reportedly because he had brought in hundreds of supporters in hired aircraft, all the way to Kendari City, Southeast Sulawesi, where the Congress was held. He himself went with the accompaniment of 212 Regional and Area Leadership Council voters in the first batch. The second batch of 170 Zulhas voters came later. Photos of these supporters in the Lion Air JT 3992Y were freely distributed throughout the internet.
Second term of rule
Zulhas has become the first PAN cadre to successfully lead the political party for two successive terms. With his victory (in power since 2015), he broke the “tradition” that PAN General Chairmen can only stay in office for a single term.
Zulhas is a very experienced politician who has won seats in both the Legislative and Executive branches. He started his political career as a member of the Head of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”) in 2004-2009, where he was also appointed as Head of DPR RI’s PAN Faction. His career skyrocketed during the second term of the 6th President of RI, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (“SBY”): He was appointed Minister of Forestry in the Indonesia United II Cabinet in 2009-2014. After the end of his term, Zulhas took part in the 2014 Legislative Elections through PAN, and returned to the Parliament as the Speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat – “MPR”) for 2014-2019. (Dan)