Hasto Kristiyanto, right, the number two to the PDI-P's Megawati Soekarnoputri, is said to be at the heart of an extensive subterfuge to bring trumped-up criminal charges against antigraft commissioners. (Antara Photo/Indrianto Eko Suwarso)
PDI-P Distances Itself, Though Not Far Enough, From Plot to Bring Down KPK
JULY 12, 2015
Jakarta. Indonesia’s ruling party has denied ordering one of its members to press a criminal complaint against the investigative news magazine Tempo over an explosive allegation that one of its top politicians engineered a plot to criminalize national antigraft commissioners.
Maruly Hendra Utama filed the complaint with the National Police in Jakarta on Saturday, alleging that Tempo’s report had tarnished the reputation of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and hence hurt his own chances of winning a regional election in December on the party’s ticket.
“This is a criminal case, which is why I’m reporting it to the police,” he told reporters when asked why he did not take his grievances with Tempo to the Press Council. “The data [Tempo published] clearly disadvantages me.”
The party, though, denies instructing Maruly to file the complaint, saying he did so on his own initiative.
“The PDI-P’s central leadership board has always been of the opinion that any disputes with the mass media should be resolved through the Press Council,” said Andreas Hugo Pareira, a member of the board.
Making up a story
The report, based on transcripts from wiretapped phone calls that Tempo says it obtained from a “law enforcement officer,” appears to show an incredibly complex and highly organized attempt to bring trumped-up criminal charges against Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman Abraham Samad and deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto – all apparently masterminded by PDI-P secretary general Hasto Kristiyanto, second in the party hierarchy to only Megawati Soekarnoputri, the chairwoman.
The transcript, whose authenticity the Jakarta Globe has not been able to verify and which KPK officials have publicly disavowed is a result of their wiretapping operations, appears to show Hasto in communication with, variously, a senior police officer and a former spy chief in plotting the subterfuge.
In one exchange, Hasto allegedly arranges with Arteria Dahlan, the PDI-P’s legal chief, to put together a “story” on Kotawaringin, in an apparent reference to the Central Kalimantan district of West Kotawaringin. Bambang served as the lawyer to one of the candidates contesting the outcome of the 2010 district election there, and was in January this year charged with compelling witnesses to perjure themselves during the Constitutional Court’s hearing of the dispute.
The timing of the charge was highly suspicious, coming five years after the alleged incident and just days after the KPK had named Budi Gunawan, the president’s sole candidate for police chief, a suspect for bribery and money laundering, in connection with undeclared millions of dollars in his personal bank accounts.
Budi, who eventually had to settle for the post of deputy chief following a massive public outcry, is known to be close to Megawati, having served as her security aide during her presidency.
‘Death card for A.S.’
In another apparent exchange, between Hasto and Sr. Comr. Karyoto of the Yogyakarta Police, the PDI-P politician appears to set the stage for the case against the KPK’s Abraham. A separate conversation, this time seemingly with A.M. Hendropriyono, a close associate of Megawati’s and the former head of the military-run State Intelligence Agency (BIN), appears to reveal that the ex-spook was also in on the act.
Hendropriyono is apparently quoted in the transcript as saying that the legal process against Budi must appear to be going on, but that Abraham is going down regardless.
“Let [Budi] be a suspect if indeed there’s evidence to investigate… [but] we can get the death card for A.S.,” he says, according to the transcript.
Another conversation, between Hasto and Anton D.H. Nugrahanto, a former social media coordinator for Joko’s presidential campaign, appears to give the final orders for the attack on the KPK commissioners.
“Start attacking in the morning so that everything turns back on Samad. Add [the charge of receiving] gratuities,” Hasto is allegedly quoted as saying.
Anton then allegedly adds, “Tomorrow we’ll strike B.W. again with West Kotawaringin.”
All those apparently quoted in the Tempo report denied that they had plotted to bring down the KPK commissioners.
“In this day and age it’s impossible to fabricate a case,” Karyoto, the police officer, told the news magazine.
However, the allegation chimes with Hasto’s history of hostility toward the KPK, and in particular Abraham, who last year was agitating to launch an investigation into Megawati for writing off billions of dollars in government bailout funds spirited away overseas following the 1997-98 financial crisis.
The PDI-P, incidentally, holds the dubious distinction of being the party with the most members arrested and jailed by the KPK for corruption.
Hasto, in the days leading up to Abraham being charged by police with document fraud – for allegedly helping an unrelated woman obtain a passport using his family registration card – claimed that the KPK chief had a vendetta against Budi because his own ambition of being Joko’s deputy had been scuppered by the PDI-P.
Abraham has consistently denied having any political aspirations. He and Bambang are currently suspended pending the criminal investigations against them.
The alleged plot involving Hasto, if true, would appear to have been the start of the PDI-P’s apparent efforts to systematically undermine the KPK, starting with the Budi fiasco.
Justice Minister Yasonna Laoly, also from the PDI-P, early on moved to divest the KPK of its authority to rule on whether corruption convicts should be eligible for sentence cuts handed out by the government on major public holidays.
He was also instrumental in submitting to the House of Representatives a bill to rein in the powers of the antigraft commission – to the uncharacteristic chagrin of the president, who has appeared uncomfortable with many of the policy moves put forward by the party.