Members of the Jakarta Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) walked out of a plenary session yesterday in an apparent show of displeasure against the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) faction, who kicked up a fuss when other factions proposed a raise for councilors while many are struggling during the pandemic.
Last week, the draft of Jakarta DPRD's 2021 draft budget was leaked to the public, which contained a proposed raise for councilors that would see each of the 106 councilors take home IDR8.3 billion (US$585,434) annually, or IDR689 million (US$48,599) per month in salary and benefits. Each councilor currently takes home around IDR73 million (US$5,149) per month based on 2017 regulations.
PSI confirmed the authenticity of the 2021 draft and voiced its strong opposition to the proposal. Meanwhile, councilors from other factions supported the proposal, arguing that the money is needed to cover their operational costs and to fund programs for their constituents.
The public unsurprisingly sided with PSI on the matter, leading to DPRD Chairman Prasetyo Edi Marsudi of the ruling PDI-P party announcing amid mounting pressure yesterday that the draft will be revised to exclude the proposed raise.
Yesterday, a plenary session was held to discuss a bill to modify zoning laws. When it came to PSI faction chairman Idris Ahmad's turn to express their views on the issue, every councilor from the other eight factions walked out of the plenary hall.
The walk out was sparked by Golkar politician Jamaludin's accusation that the PSI faction actually accepted the raise proposal, which would have been at odds with the party's regional executive board (DPW) condemning the proposal publicly and painting the rest of the factions in a money-hungry light.
"[The PSI faction] is not acknowledged by its party. If they're not recognized, then I am not prepared to hear their views. I am walking out," Jamaludin said prior to the walk out.
Councilors from other factions applauded Jamaludin's statement and followed him out of the door. They returned to their seats after Idris wrapped up his faction's statement.
PSI stressed that its faction in the council rejected the raise proposal and said that the party does not mind hostile treatment from other politicians if it meant defending the interests of the people.
Many aren't buying Jamaludin's explanation for the walk out and see the action as nothing more than privileged politicians sulking over the nixed raise.
Jakarta councilors quietly attempting to mark up budgets for "operational costs" is nothing new. In one of the biggest scandals of 2015, then-Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama helped uncover numerous irregularities in the city's proposed budget, including the procurement of Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) power generators at IDR5.8 billion (US409,000) each when one unit costs around IDR10 million (US$705).
In 2017, when Ahok went on a four-month mandated leave for his reelection campaign, Jakarta councilors and the acting governor quickly agreed to raise the year's budget, which included more benefits for councilors.