Muladi, Bagir Manan nomination endorsed
JAKARTA (JP): Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) legislators walked out on Thursday as the House of Representatives (DPR) plenary session endorsed the candidacy of Muladi and Bagir Manan as the Supreme Court Chief.
Only legislator Marah Simon of the 81 PDI Perjuangan legislators attending the session, remained seated until the session was over.
"I'm just being consistent with the recommendation of the House Commission II (on domestic and legal affairs) which had nominated Muladi and Bagir Manan," Simon, who represents West Sumatra, told reporters after the session.
The party's senior legislator, Soetardjo Soerjogoeritno, asked permission from his colleagues to lead the session, although he supported the walkout.
"I ask (your) permission to lead the session," Soetardjo, who is also Deputy House Speaker, told his fellow party members.
The session started with a statement by legislator Tjahjo Kumolo who expressed the fact that the PDI Perjuangan faction disagreed with the nomination of Muladi and Bagir.
Tjahjo said both Muladi and Bagir did not meet the requirements set by the faction, which included their personal integrity and honesty.
Faction chairman, Arifin Panigoro, told reporters after the session about its objection against the two nominees, especially Muladi, who had been connected to a certain political party and was close to the new order regime.
Muladi, who was a former Golkar Party executive, was also minister of justice under then president Soeharto and minister/state secretary under then president B.J. Habibie.
Tjahjo's statement in the session was interrupted by other House legislators, including Patrialis Akbar from the National Mandate Party (PAN) faction, who claimed that PDI Perjuangan had been ambivalent with the nomination.
"The decision to nominate Muladi and Bagir involved all factions in the House. And the decision should be respected," said Patrialis, who is also a member of Commission II.
Due to the interruptions, Soetardjo then suspended the session for 15 minutes to give leaders of the House's 10 factions the opportunity to lobby each other.
After the suspension, Soetardjo announced that the PDI Perjuangan faction demanded the nomination be adjourned until next year to give the legislators more time to discuss it further.
He, however, said that the demand was rejected as the incumbent deputy Supreme Court Chief would retire early next year, while the Chief Justice was already retired.
PDI Perjuangan then decided to walk out from the session since it refused to vote in the session which was attended by 260 legislators of the 500-member House.
As the National Awakening Party (PKB) faction expressed that it would abstain from the vote, Soetardjo banged the gavel, indicating the session's approval on the candidacy of Muladi and Bagir.
The PDI Perjuangan legislators' decision to walk out was regretted by other legislators, especially Commission II members. Commission II is chaired by PDI Perjuangan legislator Amin Aryoso.
Idrus Markham of Golkar Party deplored Amin for betraying the agreement reached by the commission to nominate Muladi and Bagir.
"What is his responsibility as the commission chairman? At least, he should not walk out, despite his friends doing so," Idrus said.
He said he would ask Amin to resign from the commission or suggest that the commission members dismiss him.
"Amin has failed to communicate the results of the commission to his friends in the faction," Idrus said.
PDI Perjuangan's decision to walk out was taken as some of the party legislators failed to nominate another candidate, Soeharto, a career justice, he said.
Amin, however, defended his decision to join the walkout as a member of the faction and not in his capacity as the chairman of Commission II.
House Speaker Akbar Tandjung said the move taken by the PDI Perjuangan legislators was uncommon, but reminded that the decision had legally been endorsed by the plenary session.
President Abdurrahman Wahid constitutionally will choose one of the two candidates to be the new Supreme Court Chief. (jun)