Election Supervisory Agency Bawaslu discovered 25 cases of 'money politics' in 13 provinces just before the April 17 elections. (Antara Photo/Irwansyah Putra)

'Money Politics' Cases Discovered Days Before Election

BY :NUR YASMIN AND TELLY NATHALIA

APRIL 16, 2019

Jakarta. Indonesia's Election Supervisory Agency announced on Tuesday (16/04) they had discovered 25 cases of "money politics"—bribing people to influence their votes with cash or goods—in 13 provinces during the "quiet period" before the election, between April 14 and 16.

"In total we found 25 cases in 25 districts, in 13 provinces, until Tuesday. We caught the perpetrators red-handed," Mochammad Afifuddin, a commissioner of the agency, better known as Bawaslu, told BeritaSatu.com.

Bawaslu worked with the police to catch the perpetrators. West Java and North Sumatra recorded the most cases, with five each. 

"We patroled villages while telling people not to get involved in money politics," Mochammad said.

It was during these routine patrols that officers arrested several legislative candidates and their campaign teams who were giving money to influence people's votes.

He said Bawaslu officers are still gathering evidence for their case, including finding witnesses.

According to their investigation, money, food or other staple goods were handed out to local residents either at their homes or at shopping centers.

The largest amount of money being handed out was Rp 190 million ($13,500) in Tigabinanga in the Karo district in North Sumatra, Mochammad said.

The 2017 Election Law states that money politics is a crime with a maximum penalty of a four-year jail sentence and a Rp 48 million fine if it occurs during the quiet period.

If it happens on election day, the maximum penalty will be a three-year jail sentence and a Rp 36 million fine.

Meanwhile, police investigators are also investigating 35 cases of money politics, National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said on Tusday.

On Tuesday, Antara news agency reported police in Lamongan, East Java, found billions of rupiah in cash in a car where they also found a stack of flags belonging to a political party.

"We've since arrested a top local party official," Lamongan police chief Dep. Cmr. Feby Hutagalung told Antara.

The exact amount of money and the name of the politician or the political party have not been disclosed. Police and Bawaslu are working together in the investigation.

In Indonesia's easternmost province Papua, police are searching for the owner of Rp 100 million in cash that was distributed to voters.

Last Friday, Customs officers at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten, found a stash of money in various currencies—Japanese Yen, Singaporean and New Zealand Dollar, Riyal and Korean Won—totalling Rp 90 billion ($6.4 million) in suitcases carried by six individuals traveling from Singapore.

Police or Customs have not announced the names or nationalities of the six individuals, only releasing their initials as Y, EG, Gof, Gio, K and Y, and said they work for a money changer in Jakarta, Jakarta Police spokesman Cmr. Argo Yuwono told BeritaSatu.com.

He said there were 10 million yen, 90 million won, 45,000 riyal, 100,000 New Zealand dollars and around 3.7 million Singaporean dollars found in the suitcases.

However, police have not found proof that the money was obtained overseas. 

"We need evidence that the money was obtained abroad. We haven't been able to prove that until now," Argo said.

Almost 193 million Indonesians are expected to throng to polling stations on April 17 in the country’s first simultaneous presidential and legislative elections—the world's biggest and most complex one-day elections.

Money politics has been a common practice in Indonesian elections for years.

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