Indonesia elects first female house speaker

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Indonesia’s new parliament has elected its first female speaker, Puan Maharani Nakshatra Kusyala,  a granddaughter of the country’s first president, after members of the House of Representatives were sworn in on amid continuing protests against several new or proposed laws.

A maharani is the daughter of former President Magewati Sukarnoputri and granddaughter of Indonesia’s founding President.

Puan Maharani, Sukarno’s granddaughter and the daughter of former President Megawati Sukarnoputri, was unanimously elected as House speaker.

She is a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, which is led by her mother and is the largest party in parliament. It is known by its Indonesian initials PDI-P.

“This will be the first female House Speaker after 70 years. I hope it will be an inspiration,” Puan Maharani was quoted by Tempo newspaper as saying on Tuesday.

The 46-year-old politician was coordinating minister for human development and cultural affairs in President Joko Widodo’s Cabinet, before she resigned to take up her seat in parliament.

Tuesday’s ceremony included 575 politicians from nine political parties.

The politicians will be under immediate pressure to revisit the legislation, including a proposed new criminal code as well as bills on mining, land and labour, that has triggered public anger.

Meanwhile, the Regional Representative Council, also known as Indonesia’s Senate, elected La Nyalla Mahmud Mattalitti as head of the 136-seat body.

Indonesia’s parliament has two chambers, and the Senate is responsible for proposing and giving advice on bills that are then approved by the more powerful House of Representatives.

La Nyalla, the new Senate leader, is a controversial figure. He was previously charged by prosecutors of enriching himself with US$82,000 as former head of the East Java branch of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. However, he was found not guilty by Jakarta’s anti-corruption court.

 

Zainab Sa’id