Admin Muhammad Sarmuji
Jokowi critic is Indonesian Parliament's new Speaker

JAKARTA • Indonesia's Parliament has sworn in as its new Speaker Mr Bambang Soesatyo, a critic of President Joko Widodo's government who was appointed after the previous Speaker was indicted in a US$173 million (S$236 million) graft scandal.

Mr Bambang is a long-time member of Golkar, the second-largest party in Mr Joko's coalition and which controls leadership of the House. Golkar appointed Mr Bambang to replace Setya Novanto, who was forced to resign last year, Reuters reported.

Analysts say Mr Bambang's appointment could mean tougher negotiations in Parliament for Mr Joko's government as it tries to push through reforms in the last year of his term before legislative and presidential elections next year.

"Jokowi may not have full control over the House like he did with the previous Speaker," said Mr Endy Bayuni, editor-in-chief of The Jakarta Post. Jokowi is the President's widely used nickname.

"Politicians switch loyalty depending on where the wind blows, but Mr Bambang's support is not automatic. Jokowi has to ensure that Golkar remains loyal to him," Mr Endy added.

Despite Golkar being part of the ruling coalition, Mr Bambang has previously criticised the President's handling of the economy, highlighting bureaucratic inefficiency and slow budget disbursement.

"Mr Bambang knows the party's position as a supporter of Jokowi," said Golkar deputy secretary-general Muhamad Sarmuji.

"Even though he has been critical, it has only been because of his desire to contribute to the government's success."

Mr Bambang, a former businessman and journalist, was sworn in during a plenary session yesterday, CNN Indonesia reported.

Some see his appointment as a missed opportunity for institutional reform.

Mr Bambang previously served on the parliamentary commission for legal affairs, where he lobbied for the popular anti-corruption agency's powers to be restricted.

"(The appointment) continues the... strong position of politicians with webs of influence to fill in leadership positions in Parliament," said Mr Tobias Basuki, a Jakarta-based political analyst

Source: The Straits Times on January 16, 2018


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