Jakarta. Business tycoon Hary Tanoesoedibjo has come to save the day when top politicians are facing embarrassment after the top bidder of an electric scooter belonging to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo failed to pay.
The scooter, made by local manufacturer Gesits, was sold at Rp 2.5 billion ($170,000) during Sunday’s auction aired live during charity music concert by a national television. The winner in the phone-call auction introduced himself as Muhammad Nuh, a businessman in Jambi province.
He beat top names in the process, including ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) politician Maruarar Sitrait who offered Rp 1 billion, and Hary’s son Warren who agreed to pay Rp 2.1 billion.
The retail price of a Gesits scooter is only around Rp 25 million ($1,700) according to the company’s website.
Problem arose when it was learned that Nuh was not a businessman -- the villager in Pasar Jambi subdistrict doesn’t have a permanent job and the money to pay the scooter, according to the Jambi police who have interrogated the man.
The auction was co-organized by People’s Consultative Assembly Speaker Bambang Soesatyo, Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Rosan Roeslani and the Agency for the Implementation of the State Ideology of Pancasila (BPIP) to raise fund for the Covid-19 mitigation.
It’s been a headache for the organizers to solve the problem during the last five days until Hary finally came and said on Friday his son had agreed to raise the offer to the winning bid, thus declared as a new winner.
Hary said Warren had consulted with him about raising the bid using his son’s saving.
"Knowing that the aim of the auction is for charity, I told Warren ‘go ahead’. Besides, Warren is a die-hard admirer of Mr. Jokowi," Hary said in a video conference.
Organizing committee representative Olivia Zalianty said she had called several top bidders including 19-year-old Warren to raise their offer.
“[Warren] replied he was really eager to own a motorcycle with the president’s signature on it and agreed to level the top offer. So he was declared as the new winner,” Olivia said.
Bambang was also present in the virtual news conference, offering his apology to the president for the mishap.
“I feel bad for what has happened and the president has nothing to do with this. If someone is to blame for this, that has to be me,” Bambang said after the news had become social media sensation in recent days.
He said the auction was part of a charity concert to raise fund for the country’s Covid-19 mitigation program.
“The president supported the fund raising event by giving his signature on the motorcycle in a hope that it went successfully and more money could be collected for people suffering from the pandemic,” Bambang said.
It emerged later that Nuh, 46, is a part-time construction worker and is not a rich man. A neighborhood leader at his residence said Nuh was among the entitled recipients of government’s financial aid for the poor program related to the Covid-19 outbreak.
Jambi Police Chief Insp. Gen. Firman Santyabudi said Nuh gave himself in to the police but no criminal charge was slapped on him.
“We didn’t arrest him. He claimed to us during interrogation that he was not aware he had participated in an auction. He thought he would get a prize,” Firman said.
“He was terrified that people would come to him to collect the money, so he came to us for protection,” he added.