Jakarta. Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan on Wednesday spent around 11 hours with investigators of the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, who are investigating alleged corruption in the city’s hosting of the Formula E race.
Anies intends to make the country’s first electric car race part of his proud legacy before his term expires next month and successfully made it happen in June with the presence of President Joko Widodo despite opposition from the governor's political opponents and the rush to build a circuit in just a couple of months.
The initial race was dealt with two cancellations in 2020-21 due to the Covid-19 pandemic after the city spent millions of dollars on commitment fees, triggering a motion for termination of the project by the opposing camp at the city’s legislative council.
But Anies argued the race will eventually bring economic benefits to the capital city in addition to global recognition for its capacity in hosting a major international event.
The KPK meanwhile has said the city budget cannot be used in business activities, primarily when the governor is about to leave office.
Jakarta has secured a deal with Formula E Holdings to become a host until 2024.
“I would like to say that I’m very happy for getting a chance to help the KPK do their job,” Anies told reporters after the lengthy interrogation at the commission’s building on Wednesday evening.
“God willing, all my explanations during the questioning will help shed light on the issue under inquiry and make the works by the KPK a lot easier.”
Anies, however, didn’t go into details about the topic being discussed with investigators.
The KPK has not formally established corruption charges in this case.
Speaking separately, KPK Chairman Firli Bahuri dismissed allegations that the ongoing investigation was politically motivated.
Anies is a potential candidate for the 2024 presidential election with major surveys consistently putting him among three top choices along with Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo and Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto.
A group of his supporters chanted “Anies for president!” after his conversation with journalists.
“First thing I want to say is to thank [Mr. Anies] for coming here,” Firli said.
“This is a purely legal proceeding. Nothing we do in the KPK is beyond our duties of upholding the law,” he added.
His deputy, Alexander Marwata, said on Tuesday the preliminary investigation is seeking answers about the planning, budget, and accountability report of Jakarta’s Formula E race.
"We want to know how it began, who came first with this idea, how the budget was formulated, and also other things surrounding the actual event and its accountability report," Alexander said.
More importantly, investigators need explanations from Anies why he decided to use the city budget to finance most of the costs in the Formula E race, he said.
Alexander argued that the city government budget was basically forbidden for business activities in response to earlier arguments that the race will bring in foreign tourists and spur economic growth in the capital city.
He also questioned the multi-year agreement between Jakarta and the Formula E rights holder.
"What if the acting governor considers that this cannot continue next year because it’s not economically feasible?” Alexander said.
The central government will soon appoint an acting governor to replace Anies until the gubernatorial election is held in 2024.
Media reports said the city government has used Rp 560 billion ($37.6 million) from the budget to pay the commitment fee for hosting formula E races until 2024.
London-based Formula E Holdings reportedly charged Jakarta 36 million pounds ($41.5 million) in commitment fees.
The inaugural race in June cost the city another Rp 120 billion in circuit construction and other expenses.