Lenny Tristia Tambun & Fana Suparman, Jakarta – Saraswati Djojohadikusumo, a niece of the Great Indonesia Movement Party chairman Prabowo Subianto, has said she is ready to take over the seat of Jakarta deputy governor, which has been left empty for nearly a year after Sandiaga Uno joined Prabowo's failed presidential bid.
Saraswati also failed in her own bid to win a House of Representatives seat in April's legislative election.
The Prosperous Justice Party, with Gerindra's blessing, has already nominated two senior party members, Agung Yulianto and Ahmad Syaikhu, for the position.
But the city council has found themselves in a deadlock to decide on Sandiaga's replacement, prompting the suggestion of new names, including Saraswati.
Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo said Gerindra was not obliged to nominate a new deputy governor during the election. This would only have to be done if the current one was permanently ill, had resigned or died.
Saraswati said there is a chance the council might fail to find a new deputy governor before October, when the current council members end their term.
If this happens, the council would need to redo the selection process and look for new candidates.
Saraswati said she would seek Gerindra's permission before formally launching her bid for the deputy governorship.
"It will be a party decision, of course. I will respect and obey [whatever they decide]," Saraswati said on Wednesday.
"But I also have to consider the wishes of the family," Saraswati said, referring to her uncle Prabowo and her father, Hasjim Djojohadikusumo, the tycoon who co-founded Gerindra.
"Their blessings are important. The responsibility that comes with the position must not be taken lightly," Saraswati said.
Corruption at city council?
Rian Ernest, a politician from the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), said last week he had heard rumors that political parties were engaged in a battle of money politics at the city council to decide the outcome of the deputy governor selection.
Taufiqurrahman, the regional chairman of the Democratic Party, reported Rian to the police for his comment, accusing him of defamation.
But Rian doubled down on his argument, saying that political parties are vying for key positions in the city council to gain access to the largest regional budget in the country, especially since there is now much more scrutiny on the state budget.
"Rumor has it that political parties are targeting the money from Jakarta's regional budget. Jakarta has an annual budget of around Rp 70 trillion, which largely goes unnoticed by the media. The potential [for corruption] is huge," Rian said on Tuesday.
PSI failed to win any seat in the House of Representatives in April's election but managed to have eight party members in the Jakarta city council.
Rian, who is also PSI's Jakarta regional head, said the party has vowed to make the management of the city's budget as transparent as possible. "The eight of us at the council will keep our eyes peeled for any sign of irregularities," he said.