Jakarta. Malang, East Java's second-largest city, appears to be on the brink of an administrative catastrophe after the national antigraft agency arrested 41 of the 45-member Regional Legislative Council for alleged bribery.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named 22 members of the council as suspects on Monday (03/09) based on allegations that they each received between Rp 12.5 million and Rp 50 million ($830-$3,300) from then-active Malang Mayor Mochammad Anton to approve the 2015 revised regional government budget.
The antigraft agency previously arrested Moch Arief Wicaksono, speaker of the Malang Regional Legislative Council, along with 18 regional lawmakers in the same case.
"M.A.W., as speaker of the Malang Regional Legislative Council for the period 2014-2019, allegedly received bribes amounting to Rp 700 million to smoothen deliberations on the city's 2015 budget," state-run news agency Antara quoted KPK deputy chairman Basaria Panjaitan as saying on Monday, referring to Moch Arief Wicaksono by his initials.
The KPK said Moch Arief distributed the money to the council members.
All the suspects face at least three years in prison and being barred from political activities for four years.
The antigraft agency previously also prosecuted Jarot Edy Sulistyono, head of Malang's Public Works, Housing and Building Supervisory Agency, for accepting a bribe from Moch Arief.
However, questions arose whether the Malang regional government can continue to operate now that the local legislative body is unable to reach a quorum of 50 percent plus one during meetings. This means the regional budget and many other administrative processes that require the legislature's stamp of approval may be disrupted.
Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo visited the KPK headquarters in Jakarta on Tuesday to discuss the situation.
"To ensure that [Malang's] government continues to function, I will issue a directive to allow use of discretionary powers so any political decisions made by the local government can still be approved," Tjahjo told reporters, as reported by BeritaSatu.
"Local governments usually consist of governors, mayors, district heads and regional lawmakers. Malang's case is unique; there are only four members left… That is why we will allow the use of discretionary powers after we consult with the KPK," he said.
Tjahjo said his ministry has prepared several options to ensure that the regional government continues to function despite the corruption case. This includes allowing the governor, mayor and district heads to implement policies after approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
In a similar case, the KPK declared 38 of the 100-member North Sumatra Regional Legislative Council bribery suspects in March.