Ezra Sihite & Arientha Primanitha
Amid speculation about what President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono meant earlier this week when he asked troubled members of his Democratic Party to step down, a senior member of the party has clarified that Yudhoyono was referring to the party’s chairman, Anas Urbaningrum.
“We won’t oust Anas, but [he] should resign and focus on his problem,” Ruhut Sitompul, the Democratic Party’s head of communication and information division, said on Friday as quoted by Detik.com. “Otherwise, our party will be wrecked.”
Ruhut said Anas should not exacerbate the problem by insisting on remaining chairman, and should instead respect Yudhoyono’s request as the head of the party. Yudhoyono could work to restore the party’s graft-tarnished image if the embattled chairman stepped down, Ruhut said.
“We both [Anas and I] joined the party mid-stream,” Ruhut said. “The icon of the party is only Yudhoyono, so please resign.”
On Wednesday during a Democratic Party forum, Yudhoyono advised all cadres who could not tow the party line to voluntarily step down.
“For the party’s cadres that cannot comply with clean, smart and polite politics, better get out now,” he said. “Don’t have any slight intention to corrupt.”
Max Sopacua, the party’s deputy chairman, said on Friday that Yudhoyono’s speech was not directed at specific Democrats but to all the party’s members.
“I didn’t pay attention to the content of his speech, but I think it is for everybody,” Max said. “He wants to clean the party immediately.”
Yudhoyono said recent polling showed the popularity of the party he founded in decline because of the inclinations toward graft that some of its members had shown.
At least four Democratic Party members have been implicated in corruption scandals involving the construction of an athletes village in Palembang and the Hambalang sports center in Bogor, as well as university equipment procurement projects. The senior party members include Anas, Youth and Sport Affairs Ministry Andi Mallarangeng, graft convict and former party treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin and lawmaker and graft suspect Angelina Sondakh.
Max said the Democratic Party has a mechanism in place to oust its members if voluntary resignations are not forthcoming.