Who is he?
Agung Laksono is a longtime Indonesian politician who currently heads a splinter faction of Golkar, Indonesia’s oldest and second largest political party. He was until recently the party’s deputy chairman and has had extensive legislative and leadership experience in the government.
During the administration of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Agung was appointed the coordinating minister for people’s welfare, a position that gave him authority over 10 ministries overseeing health, education, religion, and environment. Prior to that, he was the speaker of the lower house of Indonesia’s parliament from 2004 to 2009.
Why is he in the news?
Agung is disputing Aburizal Bakrie’s recent reelection to another five-year term as Golkar party chairman, claiming that the recent party convention held by Bakrie broke constitutional and party rules. Agung, along with other officials who expressed dissent over Bakrie’s leadership, had been sacked prior to that convention. While Golkar has been divided for years, recent issues of contention within the party have included Bakrie’s choice to align Golkar with opposition leader Prabowo Subianto’s coalition in parliament and his support of scrapping direct elections of local executives, including mayors and governors.
On December 7, Agung organized an alternative party congress in Jakarta, during which he pledged support to the government of President Joko Widodo. Agung has also filed a formal request with the Law and Human Rights Ministry to seek approval of his faction.
What can we expect from him?
Agung has thrown down his gauntlet. Reconciliation with Bakrie at this point is likely impossible, as Agung’s camp has filed a lawsuit challenging Bakrie’s chairmanship of Golkar with a district court in Jakarta. Whether his faction will be legalized will have significant implications for both Golkar and Indonesia’s parliamentary politics. Expect Agung to remain a persistent voice of opposition toward the conservative elements within Golkar and seek a role for his faction under the Jokowi government.