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Atut clan keeps its grip on Banten

Andika Hazrumy, former Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah'son

Banten | Tue, November 11 2016

In October 2005, the country saw its first ever female governor when Ratu Atut Chosiyah was sworn in as Banten acting governor after then governor Djoko Munandar was removed from office for corruption.

Atut subsequently constructed a political dynasty, with one after another of her relatives — brother, step-mother, sister-in-law and others — taking strategic political positions in the province.

The governor fell from grace, however, in 2013, when the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested her for her roles in multiple corruption cases; the Jakarta Corruption Court sentenced her to seven years’ imprisonment.

The reins of the province were taken by Atut’s deputy Rano Karno, who is seeking re-election in 2017. His victory is far from assured, however, as Andika Hazrumy, Atut’s oldest son, is set to join the race.

On Monday, the Democratic Party officially endorsed former Tangerang mayor Wahidin Halim to run for governor with Golkar Party politician Andika as his running mate.

“Hopefully, with our good intentions and noble dreams, God will pave the way for us to win the Banten gubernatorial election,” 31-year-old Andika said during the announcement.

His bid for the political throne in the first gubernatorial election to be held since Atut’s downfall is indicative of the family’s unrelenting grip on Banten’s political scene.

Even though she is now behind bars, Atut still wields power in the province, noted Hamdi Muluk, a political analyst from the University of Indonesia, adding that her son’s running in next year’s election showed the family’s reluctance to relinquish its local might.

The race between Wahidin and Andika on one side and the incumbent governor, who has yet to choose a running mate, on the other, will be very tight, he added. “On the one hand, Rano is the incumbent, but don’t forget Andika’s family has a very strong connection to Banten.”

The graft scandals that have dogged Atut’s dynasty do not seem to have shaken the family’s political grip on the province, which stemmed from the charisma of Atut’s late father Haji Tubagus Chasan, a well-known Banten businessman and political leader.

Even before Andika’s nomination, the dynasty dominated the 2016 mayoral and regency elections, with Atut’s sister-in-law, Airin Rachmi Diany, and sister, Ratu Tatu Chasanah, re-elected as, respectively, mayor of South Tangerang and regent of Serang.

Meanwhile, Atut’s son-in-law Tanto Warsono Arban won the Pandeglang regency election, replacing Heryani — Atut’s stepmother.

The clan’s tentacles spread also into Serang municipality, where Atut’s stepbrother Tubagus Haerul Jaman serves as deputy mayor.

“In Banten, kinship factors are still influential. That is why Atut’s relatives remained able to triumph in recent elections even in the wake of the corruption scandals,” said Arya Fernandes, a political analyst from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). “We can expect to see similar results in upcoming elections.”

Given his family ties, in addition to his current position in the House of Representatives, Andika is likely to bring in many votes for Wahidin, who also has a strong supporter base in Tangerang — both the city and the regency — and South Tangerang, Arya said.

This makes them the main contenders, he argued.

It is likely that the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) will pair Rano with an incumbent mayor or regent in a bid to garner support.

In a further sign of Atut’s family’s dominance, another of her relatives, Jaman, has announced his willingness to run in the election as Rano’s running mate. Were his intention to materialize, he would be competing against his own nephew, Andika.

“Given this composition, Banten’s election will be as exciting as Jakarta’s,” Arya said. Indra Budiari and Agnes Anya
(The Jakarta Post)

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