The detention of the head of the powerful Golkar Party, Akbar Tandjung, on suspicion of corruption has produced the first hint of political excitement since President Megawati Sukarnoputri took power last July. Politicians are busy calculating just how far Ms Megawati's Government will dare to go in defying Golkar's threats. Golkar is the second largest party with 120 seats in the 500-member Parliament where Akbar is House Speaker. It retains a strong network of financiers, provincial party blocks and governors. This, rather than Golkar's threat to pull its handful of ministers out of the cabinet, could come back to haunt Ms Megawati. Akbar is accused of misusing 40 billion rupiah (HK$31.4 million) of state funds, by siphoning the money into Golkar's election chest before the 1999 polls. He denies this, saying the money went through a foundation to help poor people in Java. The Attorney-General's office surprised everyone on Thursday when it chose to detain him 'administratively'. Two men connected to the foundation, Dadang Sukandar and Winfried Simatupang, are also being held. The move against Akbar, arguably through due process of law, is seen as a political step that could only have been taken with Ms Megawati's approval. It came on a day with several legal moves to give the impression of new-found reformist zeal in the Government. Former president Suharto's son Hutomo 'Tommy' Mandala Putra was charged with murder. An appeal against detention by former Suharto minister and another Golkar leader, Ginandjar Kartasasmita, was rebuffed. And, the Government rejected a proposal to offer leniency to a core of tycoons who owe more than US$1 billion (HK$7.8 billion) in rescue funds given in the 1997-98 financial crisis that they subsequently misused. Mochtar Buchori, an intellectual and former member of the ruling clique in Ms Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, which has 153 seats in Parliament, said: 'Oh yes, there is a risk to Megawati [from Golkar]. But the public pressure now is so great, that if she ignores this pressure she is also at risk.' Mr Mochtar added: 'If she genuinely means to set straight the Reformasi Movement, she must do something to distance herself from Golkar and the [Suharto-era] New Order.' Most analysts were pleasantly surprised by the combined effect of Thursday's rulings, and startled at the apparent failure of Golkar's 'squeeze machine' - its ability to lubricate the corrupt legal and political systems. 'I do not understand what is happening. My guess is it's a new political will. It's becoming impossible to ignore the heavy public pressure,' Mr Mochtar said.