Two Banjarmasin councillors arrested for alleged bribery
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators have arrested more regency officials over alleged bribery, raising deeper concerns over the integrity of Indonesia’s regional-level leadership as the arrests came only one day after the KPK named Batubara Regent OK Arya Zulkarnen a graft suspect.
The antigraft body named on Friday Golkar Party politician Iwan Rusmali, speaker of the Banjarmasin Legislative Council (DPRD) in South Kalimantan, and his deputy Andi Effendi from the National Awakening Party (PKB) graft suspects for allegedly accepting bribes in deliberating a bylaw.
Also on Friday, the KPK declared Bandarmasih water operator (PDAM) president director Muslih and its finance director Trensis suspects for allegedly offering the bribes.
“The kickbacks were meant to ensure the council’s approval for a bylaw on the Banjarmasin city administration’s capital injection into PDAM Bandarmasih, worth Rp 50 billion [US$3.8 million],” KPK deputy chairman Alexander Marwata announced on Friday.
KPK investigators arrested the four suspects at separate locations in Banjarmasin on Thursday. During the operation, they confiscated Rp 48 million in cash suspected to be what’s left of the illicit gift provided by PDAM officials.
“The promised bribe amounted to Rp 150 million, which Muslih asked from a partner company [general contractor and supplier Chindra Santi Pratama] three days before the arrest,” Alexander said.
KPK investigators suspected that PDAM Bandarmasih officials had also asked for money from other local companies. A portion of the bribes had been transferred to several other parties, Alexander added, without giving further details.
Iwan and Andi, who is also head of DPRD Banjarmasin’s special committee for the deliberation of the capital injection bylaw, are suspected of accepting bribes from provincially-owned enterprises (BUMD) related to the deliberation of several other bylaws.
“It is still being investigated,” Alexander said.
The arrests were made just one day after the KPK detained Arya for allegedly accepting Rp 4.4 billion in kickbacks from contractors of several regency projects. The KPK named him a suspect on the same day.
This was the fourth time the KPK caught officials red-handed allegedly taking bribes in the last two weeks. The antigraft body named Tegal Mayor Siti Masitha Soeparno and ad hoc Bengkulu Corruption Court judge Dewi Suryana as bribery suspects on Aug. 30 and Sept. 7, respectively.
Although many of the KPK’s recent arrests occurred in regional and local levels, Alexander dismissed criticisms that claimed the antigraft buster had only focused their attention on local cases. He said those arrests were made thanks to reports from the public.
“We chose the cases to handle first by considering which have sufficient evidence,” he said.
Transparency International Indonesia (TII) secretary-general Dadang Trisasongko defended the KPK’s move, calling it a bold strategy in eradicating corruption, which plagues every level of government.
“The arrests are especially important leading up to the regional elections next year,” Dadang told The Jakarta Post.
“Hopefully, the KPK can send the message to all incumbents not to abuse their positions, and encourage people to be more careful in voting for their leaders.”
Activist Febri Hendri from Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) said the KPK might also have to watch more closely officials of state-owned enterprises and other business entities involved in national strategic projects.
“A number of infrastructure enterprises are granted large amounts of money and projects, which make them more valuable targets than local officials,” Febri said.