If you go by her most recent statements, Sri Mulyani Indrawati clearly fingered the Golkar Party and its chairman, businessman Aburizal Bakrie, as the primary drivers behind her resignation as finance minister, political analysts said on Wednesday.
In a report published by the Financial Times newspaper, Sri Mulyani said her efforts to reform the country’s economic system had been “hijacked” by a number of actors in the business and political sectors.
During a speech last week, the former finance minister pointed out that one reason she decided to resign was the barrage of political attacks she had to face. Sri Mulyani added that a political marriage had occurred that would not uphold the needs of the public, and which she could not “afford to be a part of.”
“As her departure neared, Sri Mulyani seemed to be pointing to someone or a particular group, which she considered the destroyer of reform,” Fadjroel Rachman of the Anti-Corruption Civil Society Coalition (Kompak) told the Jakarta Globe.
“It seems like Sri Mulyani was pointing toward Aburizal Bakrie, a businessman who uses Golkar as his political vehicle.”
Bakrie and Sri Mulyani had long clashed over tax disputes involving his companies.
Fadjroel said Sri Mulyani implied Bakrie during her speech when she said a political marriage had occurred between a businessman and a ruler.
“It is clear that Sri Mulyani was implying the ‘marriage’ between SBY [President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] and Bakrie,” he said.
Fadjroel added that Bakrie needed Yudhoyono to clear his companies of tax-related legal disputes. In turn, Fadjroel said, Yudhoyono needed Bakrie reel in Golkar’s political pressure, triggered by the Bank Century saga.
Golkar had been instrumental in pushing for House of Representatives investigations into the Rp 6.7 trillion ($716.9 million) government bailout of PT Bank Century.
Fadjroel said the marriage took the form of the recently established coalition joint secretariat, with Yudhoyono as chairman and Bakrie as the managing chairman.
Lalu Mara Satriawangsa, the deputy secretary general of Golkar, denied that Bakrie and Golkar were the reasons behind Sri Mulyani’s departure.
Lalu Mara said Golkar’s aggression throughout the Bank Century case was not based on political motivation to attack Sri Mulyani, but simply to act upon a lawful finding of the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) that the state-funded bailout contained irregularities.
Lalu Mara said Bakrie had no tax problems personally, and that the tax disputes involving his companies would be settled in court.
“There is no personal feud over the so-called tax problems,” he said.
Lalu Mara also dismissed the widespread belief that the birth of the coalition joint secretariat was strongly linked to Sri Mulyani’s resignation. “The secretariat was built to smooth political communication between coalition members.”
Sunny Tanuwidjaja, a political analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said there were a host of reasons substantiating the fallout between Sri Mulyani and Bakrie.
“We cannot omit the cases where Sri Mulyani’s policies collided with Aburizal’s interests,” he said, referring to Sri Mulyani’s prosecution of Bakrie-owned companies for tax evasion.
Sunny questioned the timing of the joint secretariat’s inception and Sri Mulyani’s resignation, and how Golkar appeared to soften its stance on the Century investigation, suggesting that Sri Mulyani was the party’s main target during the long-running saga.
“Let’s not forget that there was a report based on a Golkar member’s statement that there was in fact a deal to replace Sri Mulyani,” Sunny said. “We can’t confirm this definitely, but the evidence has led us to the best conclusion.”
Sunny and Fadjroel, however, said Sri Mulyani should have been more straightforward in making statements.
“If she wants to enlighten the public that there has been a political cartel between a ruler and a businessman, then she should say it out loud,” Sunny said. “These abstract metaphors have led to public guessing.”
Sunny said that by revealing the truth, Sri Mulyani will help the country understand the political realities of the nation, “the negotiation dramas behind the scenes, a lesson for those who want to be involved in policy process and how to keep integrity when the political condition doesn’t allow us to do so.”