Ghina Ghaliya, Jakarta – Internal rifts remain within the National Mandate Party (PAN) following a violent clash during its national congress in February and the resignation of Hanafi Rais, the son of party patron Amien Rais.
The PAN executive board confirmed on Wednesday that Hanafi, the party's deputy chairman, had tendered his resignation the day before.
"It's confirmed that Hanafi has submitted his resignation as chairman of the party faction in the House of Representatives and as a lawmaker. He submitted it to the party's executive board," PAN executive Saleh Daulay said.
In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Jakarta Post on Wednesday, Hanafi said that he had resigned because of the lack of improvement in the party, noting that it tended to fall in line with the government despite criticizing it.
"This is not fair as many party members and sympathizers hope that PAN will be the antithesis to the [parties in] power," said Hanafi.
Saleh said the party would discuss Hanafi's resignation letter. He added that he was sure the party would resist the resignation, as there was no problem between Hanafi and the party.
He mentioned that Hanafi was one of the "respectable" party members that chairman Zulkifli Hasan favored, considering his political achievements and contributions to the party.
"Insya Allah [God willing], Hanafi will remain in PAN despite some issues that he mentioned [in the letter]. We will discuss it carefully," Saleh said.
PAN co-founder Putra Jaya Husin said Hanafi's resignation was related to Zulkifli's reelection at the party's national congress in February and that other members might follow his path.
"Hanafi's decision has spurred us to establish a new party. Hanafi is the PAN deputy chairman, faction leader and lawmaker with the most votes, but he has given all that up. There must be something wrong – a big problem," Putra said.
In the February leadership contest, Amien Rais made Hanafi a candidate for the role of party secretary-general if Mulfachri Harahap, Zulkifli's rival, was elected party chairman.
The internal dispute between Zulkifli and Mulfachri culminated in the injury of least 10 party members during the congress. In a video of the incident, several congress participants are seen throwing chairs at each other after the congress leader had adjourned the meeting.
The fight started when supporters of Mulfachri entered the meeting room to protest the congressional committee's decision to postpone the meeting.
The organizing committee told congress participants to stay outside of the meeting room during the recess, but supporters of Zulkifli chose to remain inside, triggering the clash.
Two months later, the party removed Mulfachri from the leadership of House Commission III overseeing legal affairs.
PAN executive Yandri Susanto said Hanafi and Zulkifli had met several times after the congress. Before submitting his resignation letter, Hanafi had also participated in some meetings chaired by Zulkifli.
"At that time, I thought the condition had returned to normal. However, reading the [resignation] letter, it is still related to the congress, I think," he said.
Yandri denied Hanafi's claim that PAN was compromised by its position vis-a-vis the government. "It's not true [...] we can't blindly attack the government when it is enacting the right policies."