Thu, 10 Apr 2003

PDI-P seeks Tarmidi's dismissal

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

President Megawati Soekarnoputri in her capacity as the chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), signed a letter urging the dismissal of Tarmidi Suhardjo from his position as City Council deputy speaker.

The letter was issued on Tuesday, two days before the City Council is due to elect someone to fill the position of speaker, which was left vacant by Edi Waluyo who quit in order to take part in last September's gubernatorial race.

Tarmidi's fate as deputy speaker will be decided during a plenary session of the City Council before the holding of the election for speaker.

The PDI Perjuangan faction on the council has offered the position to Agung Imam Sumanto, a party councillor who is loyal to Megawati and is a strong supporter of Governor Sutiyoso.

The PDIP's move is designed to punish Tarmidi, who went against party policy by taking part in the gubernatorial race last September, although the party had named Sutiyoso as its sole gubernatorial candidate.

"Yes, it's a punishment as I was considered to be going against party policy," Tarmidi said when asked to comment on the PDI Perjuangan executive board's letter.

Tarmidi took part in the gubernatorial race after he was selected during a meeting of the PDI Perjuangan's Jakarta chapter. But his candidacy was rejected by Megawati as she had nominated Sutiyoso as her party's candidate for the Jakarta governorship.

Megawati ignored strong protests from PDI Perjuangan supporters who refused to accept Sutiyoso's candidacy as he was one of the suspects in the July 27 incident in 1996 when supporters of Soerjadi -- Megawati's political rival -- backed by the military and police, attacked her supporters in the PDIP headquarters on Jl. Diponegoro, Central Jakarta. A number of people were killed and wounded during the attack.

Tarmidi used to be a strong supporter of Megawati. He was jailed from 1997 to 1998 under the Soeharto regime after he and other supporters led a demonstration against the authoritarian former president. He was accused of violating the subversion law, which has since been revoked.

His political advancement in the party was rapid and he was successively appointed the party's chairman of Kebon Pala subdistrict office in Kebon Pala, East Jakarta, between 1978- 1988, deputy chairman of the party's Kramat Jati district office in East Jakarta from 1988-1994, the party's East Jakarta office head from 1994-2000, and the party's Jakarta chapter head from 2000-2005.

Tarmidi was dismissed from his position as the chairman of the PDI Perjuangan Jakarta chapter on Oct. 11, 2002, a month after the gubernatorial election.

Tarmidi said that the dismissal was unfair as he was never given an opportunity to explain why he took part in the gubernatorial race. He said that if the party's candidate had not been Sutiyoso, he might have withdrawn his candidature.

"It was actually part of an effort on my part to save the party as the party's grassroots could not accept Sutiyoso's candidacy. I didn't want them to leave the party because their aspirations were not being heeded," he argued.

But he added that he did not regret what he had done.

The decision of the PDI Perjuangan's executive board to urge Tarmidi's removal as deputy speaker was made at a party's meeting on Tuesday. The letter, which was received by Tarmidi at 11 p.m. on Tuesday, was signed by Megawati, party secretary-general Sutjipto and the party's deputy chairman Gunawan Wirosardjono.

Tubagus Haryokarbianto, a legal expert from the Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta), said Megawati's letter did not automatically remove Tarmidi as the deputy speaker of the City Council.

He said his position as the City Council's deputy speaker was stipulated in a decree of the home minister, which could not be annulled by a letter from a party chairperson.