Indonesian party chairman resigns over corruption scandal | Connect Asia

Indonesian party chairman resigns over corruption scandal

Indonesian party chairman resigns over corruption scandal

Updated 25 February 2013, 15:57 AEST

There has been yet another blow for Indonesia's president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his pledge to fight the country's endemic corruption.

The chairman of SBY's ruling Democratic Party, Anas Urbaningrum, has resigned over a multi-million dollar corruption scandal.

He's accused of accepting a bribe to rig the bidding process for the construction of a major sports centre - an allegation he strongly denies.

But it leaves Mr Yudhonoyo looking increasingly weak as he nears the final year of his presidency, with elections due next year.

Presenter: Liam Cochrane

Speaker: Professor Greg Fealy, Australian National University

FEALEY: This is one of the fallout events from a corruption case that began now well over 18 months ago involving the Democrat Party, that's the party of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the Democrat Party's Treasurer and parliamentarian, a man called Muhammad Nazaruddin. And he made a number of allegations against not only Anas Urbaningrum, who has now resigned as the chairman of the party as you mentioned, but also against the Minister for Youth and Sport and he also resigned last December and is also facing trial, and there's been other parliamentarians who have been found guilty on those charges. And much of it is connected to either of two matters; the first is the building of a dormitory for athletes at the Southeast Asian Games, which took place in Pekanbaru in late 2011. And the second case was the building of a sports stadium in Hambalang in West Java. So most of the corruption cases that have emerged from this original Nazaruddin scandal have related to that, and indeed as you referred to, Anas Urbaningrum is implicated or is accused of being involved in this Hambalang corruption case.
 
COCHRANE: Now he of course continues to deny that he's done anything wrong and he accuses top party officials of plotting against him. What does that say about the stability or otherwise of the Democrat Party?
 
FEALEY: Well the Democrat Party is actually deeply split and it has been for some time. In fact if you go back to the last national congress that the party held and it was three years ago now, the party was divided then between the SBY forces and the forces that were pivoting around Anas Urbaningrum. SBY didn't want Anas to become the chairman of the party, he would have preferred the Youth and Sports Minister, Andi Mallarangeng, to become the chairman. But Anas had a much stronger support base amongst the party branch, he'd been a much more active Secretary General previously in building up support. So he was elected. He has repeatedly made decisions that displeased not only SBY, but also SBY's wife, Ibu Ani, and that's sometimes an even bigger sin within this party. So Anas had been building his own powerbase and before this scandal broke he had been planning to be a contestant in the presidential election, either as a presidential contestant himself, or more likely, a vice presidential contestant. So the Nazaruddin scandal, that further divided the party because Nazaruddin was very close to Anas, he had been one of the kind of bagmen for Anas's election campaign. And the fact that he turned on Anas I think just made the divisions even more bitter than what they already had been. 
 
COCHRANE: So looking at it in a slightly wider sense, what does this do to the Democrat Party's hopes for the 2014 elections?
 
FEALEY: It's a further heavy blow and they have suffered a succession of heavy blows over the last two years. If we go back to mid-2011 the Democrat Party was still the leading party in all of the respectable polls. Its figures were often above 20 per cent, sometimes well above 20 per cent. The most recent polling has it in single digits. The most recent poll I can recall had the Democrat Party at eight per cent. So this plunging support for the Democrat Party is a very big problem for SBY because what he wants to do is have a strong party which will maximise his influence over the presidential election process in 2014, and even beyond that in 2019. But if the Democrat Party is currently ranked the 3rd party and way behind the other two big parties, Golkar and Megawati's PDIP, and from that third position SBY is not going to have anywhere near as much leverage as he would like to have. He clearly has dynastic tendencies and he would like to give probably one of his sons a chance at the presidency in the future, particularly his older son Agus. But for that to happen he needs to have this very strong party base and he's lost that now.
 

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