Fri, 19 Dec 2003

Mayor Subardi warned not to take full control

Nana Rukmana, The Jakarta Post, Cirebon, West Java

Mayor Subardi was not seen at his office on Thursday, the day after he was dismissed by the Cirebon Legislative Council, while council leaders warned him against issuing strategic and crucial policies for his administration.

Neither was he found at his official residence and his family declined to reveal his whereabouts. The mayor's cellular phone was switched off.

Local officials said the mayor was possibly in the West Java capital of Bandung to attend an Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) meeting, where party leader President Megawati Soekarnoputri was present.

The council withdrew political support for Subardi and his deputy Agus Alwafier, and dismissed them on Wednesday after only eight months in office, accusing them of abuse of power.

Yet, the council is powerless to stop the mayor from maintaining control over the municipal administration, pending the approval of his dismissal by Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno.

"As the West Java governor and the home affairs minister are investigating the dismissal decision, we prohibit the mayor and the deputy mayor from issuing strategic and important policies," deputy council speaker Haries Sutamin of the National Awakening Party (PKB) told a media conference.

He said the two were only allowed to carry out their administrative functions in order to tackle the leadership vacuum in Cirebon.

The strategic policies in question included replacing and promoting officials, issuing bylaws and other binding regulations, and making agreements with other parties, Haries added.

"The decision of the council is final. Now we are going to meet the West Java governor and the home affairs minister to support and endorse it as a permanent decision," he asserted.

The media conference was attended by two other deputy council speakers Soenaryo of the Golkar Party and Wawan Wanija of the National Mandate Party (PAN).

Also present was Commission E chairman Enang Iman Gana, who also heads the Justice and Unity Party faction in the council.

Council speaker Suryana, who was scheduled to chair the news conference, could not attend as he had to meet Megawati's husband Taufik Kiemas and West Java's PDI-P chairman Rudi Harsya Tanaya at a party meeting in Bandung.

Suryana, speaking to The Jakarta Post by phone, claimed the dismissal of Subardi was supported by PDI-P leaders in Jakarta and West Java.

Haries further said the investigation into the case by the governor and the home minister was merely to meet administrative procedures, and would not conflict with the council's decision to fire the mayor.

"In another words, the governor and the home affairs minister are tasked with approving the council's decision," he added.

Soenaryo echoed Haries' statement, saying the council believes that the governor and the central government would certainly take the same stance against the Cirebon mayor.

One of the mayor's most serious mistakes was that he often misused his power, Soenaryo said on Wednesday.

Citing as an example, he said Subardi launched a reshuffle of officials at his administration without consulting the council and the city's ranking and post supervisory board (Baperjakat).

Councillors also accused the mayor of corruption in connection with the approval of several development projects.

Councillor Enang Iman Gana said the mayor often neglected his duties, as he was frequently absent from his office.