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Bambang Soesatyo: My Reputation is the House`s Reputation
Bambang Soesatyo, new House of Representatives speaker, during inaugurated in Parliament, Jakarta, Jan. 15, 2018. Tempo/Ilham Fikri
Tuesday, 23 January, 2018 | 15:08 WIB
Bambang Soesatyo: My Reputation is the House`s Reputation

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - It was just past 2 pm when Bambang Soesatyo entered the parliamentary complex in Senayan, Jakarta, last Tuesday. It was his first day at work as the Speaker of the House of Representatives (DPR), a hot seat that had already changed hands three times during the term 2014-2019. Bambang replaced Setya Novanto who is now languishing in the Corruption Eradication Commission¡`s (KPK) detention cell for his alleged involvement in the electronic ID card (e-KTP) corruption scandal. 

Bambang, 55, had just met with his Golkar party colleagues that morning to discuss the revision of the Criminal Code as well as the MPR, DPR, DPD and DPRD (MD3) laws. They also deliberated on the recommendation for the KPK inquiry rights committee. Bambang was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the committee last year, which many accuse of seeking to undermine the anti-graft agency. “There is no plan to revise the KPK law,” he said. 

Bambang’s election has sparked some reactions. Anti-corruption activists view that Golkar’s decision does not reflect its ‘Clean Golkar’ slogan championed by its Chief Airlangga Hartarto. Bambang was interrogated several times by the KPK in relation to the driving simulator graft case involving the national police’s traffic division in 2013. He was also summoned to give statements regarding the e-KTP scandal. 

That afternoon, in an interview over one hour long with Tempo’s Abri Dongoran, Angelina Anjar and Reza Maulana—the first item on Bambang’s agenda for the day—he talked about his board’s target, the KPK inquiry rights committee, and his relationship with Setya. 

How were you elected as the DPR speaker?

With a push from friends, both at the DPR’s commission III and Golkar’s central executive board. I just went with the flow. What’s the point of chasing a position? Besides, I don’t have the talent to become an official (chuckles).

Why do you feel you lack that talent?

First of all, the thing I hate the most is giving speeches (laughing). Second, I don’t really like ceremonial events. My background is journalism. Therefore, I prefer working independently.

You didn’t nominate yourself?

No. I enjoy my work in Commission III. Besides, there was no application process or anything of the sort. They just pushed me into it.

How did the election process go?

At first there were five names, then three and then there were just two left. Finally, the central executive board meeting on January 14 at 8 pm chose me to succeed Pak Setya Novanto as the House Speaker. The decision was forwarded to the Golkar party’s advisory council meeting held at the Bakrie Tower, South Jakarta, for consideration. I was home at that time.

When were you informed?

That night around 10 pm. Pak Airlangga called me. About an hour later, Bang Ical (Aburizal Bakrie, Chair of Golkar’s Advisory Council) called to say that the advisory council had unanimously approved my nomination as DPR Speaker.

Was there any opposition during the election?

It was also unanimous at the DPP (central executive board). I was stunned actually. Perhaps there were already talks about the candidates before that, and only one name was given to the advisory council.

How did you deal with the opposition from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) at the Consultative Body?

There was no opposition from them. The PDI-P protested two things. First, that the inauguration last Monday was held at such short notice. If it were delayed to Tuesday, Fahri Hamzah and Fadli Zon, the deputy speaker, wouldn’t be able to attend, so that there would only be two leaders. Second, Golkar once promised that the inauguration of the DPR Speaker would coincide with the inauguration of an additional House leader from the PDI-P. I explained that if the inaugurations were to be held simultaneously, we would only conclude the process until the current session ends on February 14. Then the PDI-P consulted with Ibu (PDI-P Chair Megawati Soekarnoputri) who then advised us to go ahead with the scheduled inauguration.

Any advice from the Golkar leaders when they picked you?

Bang Ical asked me to guard Golkar’s name. The burden to boost the party’s electability is on my shoulders. My reputation is the reputation of both Golkar and the DPR.

Was the same message related to your predecessor, Setya Novanto?

I don’t want to speculate. But Pak Airlangga’s message is the same: to protect DPR’s name. I’ve been given the task to improve its image. If the DPR’s image improves, so will Golkar’s. Your election is deemed to run counter to the ‘Clean Golkar’ slogan because of your role in the KPK inquiry rights committee and KPK’s summoning of you in relation to the e-KTP corruption case. What is your response? Then, who is clean? That question should be addressed to Pak Airlangga or the DPP members who took part in the decision-making process, not me. I am only the chosen victim (laughs).

Read the full interview in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine.

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