Fri, 11 Apr 2003

City Council gets new speaker

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Agung Imam Sumanto of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) has been elected the new speaker of the City Council, securing 44 votes from the 81 councillors who attended Thursday's plenary session.

Agung's election was made possible after City Council deputy speaker Tarmidi Suhardjo, also of PDI Perjuangan, stepped aside after receiving a letter from the party's executive board approving a proposal by PDI Perjuangan's Jakarta chapter to replace him.

Agung defeated three other candidates to become speaker. They were Chudlary Syafi'i Hadzamy of the United Development Party (PPP), who received 18 votes, Ibnu Sumantri of the National Police/Indonesian Military faction with 10 votes and Muhammad Suwardi of the National Mandate Party (PAN), who received five votes. Four councillors abstained.

The position of City Council speaker has been vacant since August of last year, when Edi Waluyo of the police/military faction resigned as speaker to contest the gubernatorial election.

Tarmidi earlier lost his position as chairman of the PDI Perjuangan Jakarta chapter when he chose to contest the gubernatorial election against the wishes of the party's central board, which had thrown its weight behind incumbent Governor Sutiyoso, who eventually won reelection.

Tarmidi said he decided to stand for governor because many PDI Perjuangan members opposed the candidacy of Sutiyoso, who is suspected to have been involved in the attack on the party's Jakarta headquarters on July 27, 1996, when Sutiyoso was the city's military commander.

Governor Sutiyoso welcomed Agung's election, saying that he enjoyed a good relationship with the new City Council speaker. The governor expressed hope that Agung would continue the good cooperation the council has enjoyed with the city administration.

"Agung is a very good communicator and he works in a very transparent manner," he said of Agung, who was helpful in helping Sutiyoso win September's gubernatorial election.

Before Thursday's election took place, the council appointed Agung and Ibnu Sumantri as deputy speakers after Tarmidi announced that he was resigning from that position.

However, Syarifien Maloko, a councillor from the Crescent Star Party (PBB), questioned the validity of Agung's replacement of Tarmidi, saying the City Council should report the election to the home affairs minister.

Syarifien said Tarmidi's replacement would only be valid after it was approved by the home affairs minister.

He was referring to Article 39 of Government Regulation No. 1/2001 on the City Council's internal regulations.

Syarifien's argument loses some weight, however, when it is considered that Chudlary earlier replaced Djafar Badjeber as a deputy speaker of the council in the same manner.