Golkar chairman Setya returns as House Speaker

Mr Setya (right with purple tie) was appointed as Speaker in October 2014 but was forced to step down last December after he was accused of trying to seek kickbacks from the Indonesian subsidiary of a US-based mining firm. But the allegation was neve
Mr Setya (right with purple tie) was appointed as Speaker in October 2014 but was forced to step down last December after he was accused of trying to seek kickbacks from the Indonesian subsidiary of a US-based mining firm. But the allegation was never proven.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

But House of Representatives leader Ade gets booted out

Indonesia's Golkar Party chairman Setya Novanto has returned as House Speaker, almost a year after he was forced to resign amid allegations that he was trying to solicit kickbacks from an American mining firm in Papua.

While his reinstatement late on Wednesday had been on the cards for weeks, the sacking of fellow Golkar cadre member and his successor as the House of Representatives leader Ade Komarudin earlier in the day came as a surprise.

Mr Ade had said he would step down for Mr Setya's return, but instead he was removed unceremoniously by the House Ethics Council, allegedly for ethics violations. This followed reports that he had unfairly stalled a draft tobacco law aimed at raising cigarette prices.

Parliament held a plenary meeting on Wednesday to dismiss Mr Ade in absentia as he was overseas for medical treatment, as well as for Mr Setya to take his oath of office.

All 10 party factions in the House supported Mr Setya's nomination as Speaker by Golkar.

"I will strengthen relations between lawmakers and other high state officials, particularly President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo," said Mr Setya after his appointment.

GOLKAR CHAIRMAN'S PROMISE

I will strengthen relations between lawmakers and other high state officials, particularly President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo.

INDONESIA'S GOLKAR PARTY CHAIRMAN SETYA NOVANTO

The 61-year-old joined Golkar in the early 1990s and worked his way up the ranks of Indonesia's second-largest political party.

He was appointed as Speaker in October 2014 for a five-year term but was forced to step down last December after he was accused of trying to seek US$1.8 billion (S$2.6 billion) in kickbacks from the Indonesian subsidiary of United States- based mining firm Freeport McMoran at a meeting last year.

However, the allegation was never proven despite a widely followed public inquiry, which included testimonies from then Freeport Indonesia chief Maroef Sjamsoeddin revealing that he had secretly recorded Mr Setya during the meeting.

Although Mr Setya's return was widely accepted in the Parliament, the Democratic Party questioned the move by Golkar.

"We want to ask the (Golkar) party the reason behind the replacement (of Mr Ade)," Democratic Party lawmaker Benny K. Harman was quoted by The Jakarta Post as saying during Wednesday's session.

Analysts, however, say the move by Golkar may pave the way for the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party - Struggle (PDI-P) to finally succeed in revising a law, called MD3, which will allow the PDI-P to take a position in the leadership of the House.

And while Mr Setya's standing with Mr Joko had suffered during the Freeport debacle, their relationship has since been on the mend, with the President hosting the Golkar chief to lunch recently.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2016, with the headline 'Golkar chairman Setya returns as House Speaker'. Print Edition | Subscribe