Jakarta Globe, Candra Malik | March 12, 2011
Yogyakarta. Lawmakers visiting Yogyakarta to survey local opinion on a bill over the region’s autonomy on Friday said they were witnesses to a threat made by the brother of Sultan Hamengkubuwono X that had the potential to split the nation.
The House is currently debating a draft law on the special territory of Yogyakarta in which the government is seeking to end the tradition of automatically appointing the sultan and the head of the minor house of Pakualaman as the governor and vice governor of the region.
J akarta has argued that the two posts should be filled by election like in every other province, but the proposal has prompted strong opposition from the people of Yogyakarta.
On Friday, during a meeting between House Commission II members and the royal family at the palace in Yogyakarta, Sultan Hamengkubuwono X’s brother Joyokusumo made his threat.
He said the kingdom of Yogyakarta was established 190 years before the Republic of Indonesia was proclaimed on Aug. 17, 1945, but that the ruling sultan, Hamengkubuwono IX, had declared that the kingdom would join the young republic on Sept. 5, 1945.
“The integration of Yogyakarta into Indonesia is final. However, if the central government will not respect what was granted by the founding fathers [of the republic] to Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX and Paku Alam VII, then we have no choice other than to stand on our own feet, separated from Indonesia. After all, it’s not our intention to divorce,” he said.
Founding President Sukarno decreed that in return for the support of the kingdom in the republic’s struggle for independence, Yogyakarta would be granted special territory status. It was awarded the rank of a province and the rulers of the House of Yogyakarta and the princedom of Pakualaman were to be automatically appointed as governor and vice governor.
Joyokusumo added that what the government was now doing was disowning the territory. “Better for us to live independently,” he added.
Chairuman Harahap, chairman of Commission II, which oversees home affairs, said he regretted Joyokusumo’s statement, saying it could only hurt deliberations over the bill.
“Let’s create a conducive atmosphere to accelerate the discussion of the bill, to settle it before the term of office of the sultan as Yogyakarta’s governor ends in October. We came to Yogyakarta to absorb the aspirations of the stakeholders, especially the people of Yogyakarta, and the thought of the experts,” he said.
Chairuman said he could guarantee that the House would not deny the facts of history and the agreement that bound Sukarno, the late Sultan and Paku Alam.
Meanwhile, Sultan Hamengkubuwono X questioned the immunity rights discourse embodied in the post of prime governor that the government was proposing the sultan to take.
In order to protect the dignity of the sultan and Paku Alam should they lose the automatic right to become governor and vice governor, there is a proposal to create an institution led by the them in the roles of prime governor and deputy prime governor.
The pair would function as cultural guardians and symbols behind which the people of Yogyakarta could unite. The two would enjoy legal immunity.
“The right of immunity raises questions about whether it is a trap or an honor from central government given to me. I am a commoner who can do wrong and is equal [to anyone else] before the law,” the sultan said