All eyes on Indonesia’s identity card scam The spiraling US$172 million
parliamentary scandal has tainted President Joko Widodo while boosting the
electoral prospects of comparatively clean opposition leader Prabowo
By John McBeth <http://www.atimes.com/writer/john-mcbeth/> Jakarta, August
2, 2017 1:33 PM (UTC+8)
[image: An Indonesian man shows his identity card, locally known as KTP, in
a file photo. A government scheme to produce new cards has revealed the
largest corruption scandal in recent history. Photo: AFP/Ahmad Zamroni]
An Indonesian man shows his identity card, locally known as KTP, in a file
photo. A government scheme to produce new cards has revealed the largest
corruption scandal in recent history. Photo: AFP/Ahmad Zamroni
Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) leader Prabowo Subianto, who has
his eye on another bid for the presidency in 2019, knows a losing cause
when he sees one – even if many of Indonesia’s tone-death political parties
Heeding widespread public condemnation, Prabowo’s opposition party has
pulled out of Parliament’s critical inquiry into the Anti-Corruption
Commission (KPK), saying it was the “wrong step” and would only weaken the
fight against corruption.
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That leaves President Joko Widodo’s own Indonesian Democratic Party for
Struggle (PDI-P) and five other ruling coalition partners — Golkar, the
United Development (PPP), National Democrat (NasDem), People’s Conscience
(Hanura) and National Mandate (PAN) parties — still on what many see as a
shameful crusade to defang the anti-graft agency.
The National Awakening Party (PKB) is the only government party that is not
represented on the inquiry panel, while former president Susilo Bambang
Yudhoyono’s centrist Democrat Party (PD) joined a walk out when the action
was hastily approved at a plenary session last April.
Interestingly, Prabowo and Yudhoyono are reported to be actively
considering a possible alliance in 2019, with speculation centering on the
former president’s eldest son, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, as a possible
Prabowo running mate.
[image: Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto (C), joined by running mate
Hatta Rajasa (top R), who lost the polls to Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo
speaks to supporters during a rally outside the Constitutional Court in
Jakarta on July 25, 2014 as his team of lawyers filed a legal challenge to
the election result, alleging widespread electoral fraud and irregularities
in vote counting. Prabowo has refused to concede defeat despite the
elections commission's declaration Tuesday that Widodo won the presidency
with 53 percent of the vote. AFP PHOTO / AFP PHOTO / STR]
Prabowo Subianto (C) speaks to supporters after losing the 2014
presidential election. Photo: AFP
The 38-year-old retired infantry officer failed in the first round of last
February’s Jakarta gubernatorial election, but critics blamed his father
for a strategy that had his son playing the Islamic card instead of
appealing to the youth vote.
Parliament launched the inquiry after the KPK understandably refused a
request to hand over copies of testimony by Hanura lawmaker Miryam Haryani,
a key witness in the 5.9 trillion rupiah (US$172 million) electronic
identity card scandal that has implicated various political parties,
including Widodo’s PDI-P.
The ongoing investigation has already led to the indictment of House
Speaker and Golkar party chairman Setya Novanto, who is accused of being
the mastermind behind Parliament’s largest single corruption case since the
birth of Indonesia’s post-Suharto democratic era.
[image: The speaker of Indonesia's parliament Setya Novanto waves as he
arrives at Corruption Eradication Commision building (KPK) in Jakarta,
Indonesia, July 14, 2017 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Picture taken
July 14, 2017. Antara Foto/Hafidz Mubarak via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS -
THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY
CREDIT. INDONESIA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN INDONESIA.]
The speaker of Indonesia’s parliament Setya Novanto as he arrives at the
Corruption Eradication Commission building (KPK) in Jakarta, July 14, 2017.
Photo: Antara Foto/Hafidz Mubarak via Reuters
PKP chairman Agus Rahardjo claims Novanto took a direct role in the
front-loading of the 2009 budget process, which effectively doubled the
cost of the project, and in subsequently rigging the tenders.
Haryani, 43, who is now facing perjury charges, has knowledge of the
illegal flow of funds from the grossly inflated identity card procurement
project to as many as 50 other legislators.
The KPK claims senior politicians pressured Haryani to recant the testimony
she was to give at the trial of two senior Home Affairs Ministry officials,
who were last week jailed for seven and five years respectively for their
role in the scandal.
The scale of the case suggests the trials could drag on well into 2018 and
cast a dark shadow over most of Indonesia’s parties in the run up to the
2019 legislative and presidential elections.
[image: Indonesia's President Joko Widodo stands after an interview with
Reuters in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 3, 2017. REUTERS/Beawiharta]
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo once bright political prospects are
dimming with corruption allegations against his party members. Photo:
“Setya’s story is evidence that our political system has failed to produce
political elites,” Tempo magazine said in an editorial. “It is as if
political parties do not possess any ideals and values to strive for.
Instruments critical for democracy have been hijacked by often amoral
Widodo has not had anything to say publicly about the inquiry, but Novanto
was pivotal to bringing Golkar into the coalition in the months following
the 2014 presidential election when Widodo was struggling to find his feet.
Several senior PDI-P figures are also implicated in the scandal, including
Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly and Central Java Governor
Ganjar Pranowo. That puts Widodo in an embarrassing position ahead of what
are expected to be hotly contested polls.
PDI-P has seen more of its politicians jailed for corruption over the past
decade than any other party, while Gerindra – well organized and
rhetorically committed in its policy platform to a corruption-free
government — lies at the other end of the scale.
[image: Activists and supporters of the Corruption Eradication Commission
(KPK) hold a rally of support at the KPK's headquarters in Jakarta January
23, 2015. Indonesian police on Friday detained the deputy chief of the
anti-graft agency over a false testimony case in 2010, raising tensions
between two law enforcement bodies that have long had strained
relations.REUTERS/Darren Whiteside (INDONESIA - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)]
Activists and supporters of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
By withdrawing Gerindra from the KPK inquiry, Prabowo can now accuse the
president of not only failing to support the war on corruption, but
condoning efforts to undermine what is Indonesia’s most popular institution.
Polls in recent years have found eight out of 10 Indonesians believe
corruption is widespread throughout government, with Parliament
consistently named as the least trusted institution.
But the problem inherent in Indonesia’s democratic development has been
that voters do not always consider the link between integrity and public
service when they go to the polls.
Indeed, not only are they inured to the spectacle of corrupt legislators
lining up before the courts, but many constituents tend to see their
representatives as cash cows – just as they themselves often perceive the
[image: Golkar party leader Setya Novanto shakes hands with Chairman of the
board of Golkar party Aburizal Bakrie in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 28,
2016 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Picture taken November 28, 2016.
Antara Foto/Rosa Panggabean/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS
PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT.
INDONESIA OUT.NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN INDONESIA - RTSTZX8]
Golkar party leader Setya Novanto shakes hands with Golkar party chairman
Aburizal Bakrie in Jakarta, Indonesia, November 28, 2016. Photo:Antara
Foto/Rosa Panggabean/via Reuters
All this tends to explain why the Teflon-coated Novanto has managed to
survive so long since the country’s first democratic election in June 1999,
when he was one of four parliamentarians to be elected from the then
Indonesian territory of East Timor.
Although East Timor separated from Indonesia in a bloody referendum two
months later, he and the other MPs stayed on, ostensibly representing the
Timorese and Indonesian refugees who chose to move to neighboring West
Despite a checkered past, Novanto has stormed home by between 47% and 69%
of the vote in his safe Sumba electorate in the far-off East Nusa Tenggara
island chain, even though he is a native of Bandung, the West Java