Presidential Hopefuls Bring Plenty of Baggage: Analysts

By webadmin on 06:58 pm Aug 13, 2012
Category Archive

Ezra Sihite

The list of possible candidates for the 2014 presidential election may be growing, but no one in the lineup has a spotless resume, according to politicians and analysts.

Romahurmuziy, a United Development Party (PPP) legislator, said over the weekend that the would-be candidates all had a past that was clouded with allegations of some kind of dubious conduct.

“Of the prospective candidates we’ve seen to date, all have some kind of poor record on human rights, business dealings or politics,” he said.

The would-be candidate with the most blemishes on his record, according to most recent opinion polls, is Prabowo Subianto, a former commander of the notorious Kopassus, the Army’s special forces.

A former son-in-law of former President Suharto, Prabowo has been widely accused of orchestrating the violence and looting that led to the strongman’s resignation as president in 1998.

Close to Prabowo is Aburizal Bakrie, a business tycoon and chairman of the Golkar Party.

Aburizal’s business empire has frequently come under scrutiny, especially on the issue of tax evasion. In addition, a gas exploration company within the group is blamed for triggering a mud volcano in Sidoarjo, East Java, that has swamped entire villages since 2006.

Romahurmuziy blamed the dearth of clean candidates on the fact that only those with the backing, or promise of backing, from a major party could expect to be nominated.

“That’s why the candidates being put forward don’t fit the needs of most Indonesian voters,” he said.

Romahurmuziy added that this was a good time for other parties to do the right thing. “Parties that haven’t submitted a nominee yet should understand this and put forward a more fitting candidate,” he said.

Saldi Isra, a political and legal analyst at Andalas University in Padang, West Sumatra, agreed that the electoral system was geared to favor politically well-connected candidates over others.

He said that although the law stipulated that only parties or coalitions winning at least 20 percent of the vote in the legislative elections could nominate a presidential candidate, the major parties or blocs never considered nominating an outsider with the right qualifications and track record.

“There has never been a political party chairperson who hasn’t wanted to be president themselves,” he said. “People are starting to think about alternative candidates, but the parties just don’t want to share their tickets.”

Romahurmuziy suggested that one way to address this problem would be to allow all the parties that qualify for a seat at the House of Representatives to nominate a candidate.

That way, he said, the “political oligarchy” maintained by the major parties could be broken with the introduction of fresher faces by the smaller parties.

“This oligarchy is a very real problem in Indonesia, but it’s not too late to fix it through amendments to the election laws,” he said.