Jakarta. The anti-corruption agency has arrested South Sulawesi Governor Nurdin Abdullah and several others for alleged corruption in Makassar on Friday.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested Nurdin while sleeping at the governor's residence in the South Sulawesi capital and flew him overnight to Jakarta.
"I was sleeping, [when they came] to pick me up," Nurdin told reporters when he arrived at KPK headquarters in Jakarta on Saturday.
Ali Fikri, KPK's spokesman, said the agency arrested five others in Friday's operation, including South Sulawesi senior officials and business people.
Ali refused to reveal more details about the cases, saying the investigators are still working to gather more evidence.
Nurdin's arrest came as a surprise to many with his track record as an anti-corruption champion. The 57 years old governor won the prestigious Bung Hatta Anti-Corruption Award in 2017 when he was still a district head in Bantaeng, South Sulawesi.
The previous winner of this award include President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Social Affairs Minister Tri Rismaharini, who was a former Surabaya mayor.
The Bung Hatta Anticorruption Award jurors at the time were impressed by Nurdin's initiatives to revamp the district budget management and transparency by involving the police and the state prosecutor's office for its supervision. The jurors also said that Nurdin managed to strengthen the district's inspectorate department, closing many corruption opportunities.
Bivitri Susanti, one of the 2017 award jurors, said at the time, the award went to public officials who "created an anti-corruption system," and they extend their leadership's impact to their constituents.
"We feel disappointed over the arrest of the South Sulawesi governor," Bavitri said on Saturday.
"The election process [for the Bung Hatta Anti-Corruption Award] was very rigorous. In addition to input from the public, [his] track records are also verified directly in the field," Bivitri said.
She said the jurors hoped at that time that Nurdin, as well as other award recipients, could be a driving force and inspiration for anti-corruption attitudes for other government officials.
"The hope is that at that time, the recipients of the award from the government will be an encouragement and inspiration for anti-corruption in the government. But the development after the award cannot be controlled, even though they signed an integrity pact when they received the award," he said.
Under two periods of Nurdin's leadership, Bantaeng's regional per capita income grew almost six times to Rp 41.6 million ($2,910) in 2018 from Rp 7.1 million in 2008, the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) data showed.
The share of poor households dropped to 9.2 percent of the total households in the district from 40 percent over the period, according to the Jakarta Globe's calculation based on the agency data.
Nurdin then runs for the South Sulawesi governor seat in 2018, pairing with Andi Sudirman Sulaiman, the younger brother of the former agriculture minister Amran Sulaiman, as his deputy.
The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), the National Mandate Party (PAN), and the Social Justice Party (PKS) backed Nurdin in the election, which he won by a landslide victory against three other candidates.