Demonstrators outside the State Palace in Jakarta on Jan. 21, 2015 asking President Joko Widodo to pick a police chief with a clean record. (JG Photo/Afriadi Hikmal)
PDI-P Says Abraham Named Budi Suspect Out of Personal Spite
BY :MARKUS JUNIANTO SIHALOHO, FANA F.S. PUTRA & EZRA SIHITE
JANUARY 22, 2015
[Updated at 10:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2014 to add more details, comments]
Jakarta. A politician of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P, has launched a scathing attack against the chairman of the national antigraft agency over the probe against Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan.
The accusation was made by the PDI-P’s acting secretary general Hasto Kristiyanto, who was previously part of President Joko Widodo’s campaign team.
He accused Abraham Samad, chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), of retaliating against the party for its decision not to support Abraham’s alleged bid to become vice president.
Before a press conference, Hasto, who claimed to be acting in his personal capacity and not as a PDI-P member, said Abraham met with the campaign team at least five times, expressing his wish to become Joko’s running mate.
Hasto said Abraham promised to be more lenient toward PDI-P politician Emir Moeis, who was on trial for bribery at the time, in exchange for the party’s backing.
The PDI-P politician alleged that two of Abraham’s associates, who he identified as “D” and “D,” have continuously lobbied him since then.
Hasto said he met Abraham in May last year to break the news to him that Joko had chosen senior Golkar politician Jusuf Kalla as his running mate.
“I know [about Kalla] already, because I have wiretapped [your phones],” Hasto quoted Abraham as allegedly saying. “I know I failed [to become Joko’s running mate] because of Budi Gunawan.”
Hasto said he had witnesses who could corroborate his version of the events.
The attack against Abraham follows the antigraft agency’s naming of Budi, Joko’s sole candidate for National Police chief, as a bribery and money laundering suspect.
The senior police officer is known to have close ties with PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri since the time he was the former president’s security aide.
Hasto, who did not say what role Budi played in Abraham’s alleged bid, said he was not attacking the KPK chief, nor seeking revenge for the antigraft agency stopping Budi from becoming the police chief.
“I am merely clarifying the blog post,” he said pointing to a blog post on online forum Kompasiana titled “Abraham Samad’s Glass House,” which first aired the accusations.
In an extraordinary statement that could leave Hasto open to a defamation suit by Abraham, the PDI-P secretary general reported Abraham as having admitted to wire-tapping Budi to glean information that could affect his alleged political ambitions.
“[Abraham] said ‘I know already because I wire-tapped [people from the PDI-P]. I know that Budi Gunawan was behind my failure’,” Hasto said, quoting or paraphrasing Abraham.Hasto said Budi had nothing to do with the putative jilting of Abraham as Joko’s political partner.
But Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto, who also served in Joko’s campaign team, denied Hasto’s remarks.
Andi said his team indeed considered Abraham as a likely running mate for Joko but that the proposal came from Joko’s team and not from Abraham.
Andi said it was Joko’s campaign team who eventually approached Abraham for a possible nomination.
“But because of the strict code of ethics inside the KPK, it was impossible for [the campaign team] to meet, let alone interview Abraham Samad,” he said. “To my knowledge it is impossible for Abraham to lobby someone freely without [other] KPK [officials] monitoring it.”
Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, Hasto’s former boss, also denied Hasto’s story that the PDI-P had planned to back Abraham as a vice presidential candidate.
Tjahjo, who was the PDI-P’s secretary general before becoming a minister, said he never met Abraham privately.
“I have never heard [about the PDI-P considering Abraham to be vice president]. As a secretary general I never heard of it. The party never discussed [Abraham’s nomination],” he said.
Siti Zuhro, a senior political analyst at the Indonesia Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said Hasto’s accusations have only served as confirmation that the PDI-P was behind Budi’s nomination.
“The KPK names a suspect based on consensus among all KPK leaders. Suppose one KPK leader did have a grudge, does that mean the others have grudges as well?” she said. “This is just a rumor to smooth [Budi’s path] to becoming police chief.”
Budi had been on the antigraft agency’s radar since 2010, when the Financial Transactions Report and Analysis Center (PPATK) flagged irregularities in Budi’s bank accounts, which the anti-money laundering agency deemed problematic.
The KPK, which said it had intensified its investigation against Budi since mid-2014, named the three-star general as a graft suspect shortly after he was named as a police chief candidate.
Indonesia Corruption Watch deputy chairman Emerson Yuntho said Joko has been inconsistent with his anti-corruption pledge as well as the elites and politicians around him.
“What is so special about [Budi] that forces the politicians to keep pushing the president to inaugurate him? Politicians should listen to what the public wants and not the demands of a few political elites,” he said.
University of Indonesia political analyst Cecep Hidayat noted that Joko’s decision to leave the KPK out from vetting his police chief candidate is also inconsistent with the process in naming his cabinet members, during which the KPK actively conducted background checks on all names proposed by the president.
“It would be better if Joko restarts his nomination process for the National Police chief to prove that he will not bow down to any political party leader,” he said.
However, the KPK has pledged to investigate Hasto’s claims.
“We will see how far this information is true,” KPK chief of corruption prevention Johan Budi said. But he warned that the KPK could report Hasto for slander if the claims proved to be false.
However, Hasto is not alone in attacking the KPK. A nongovernmental organization known as the Indonesian Marginalized People Movement (GMBI), with support from lawyers representing Budi, has filed a report with the police against the antigraft agency on Thursday.
The group alleges that the KPK has not followed due process in its investigation into Budi, accusing the antigraft agency of having violated Article 11 of the 2010 Law on Money Laundering, according to which investigators are not permitted to disclose evidence before a public trial.
The KPK has so far said that Budi’s case involve irregularities in his bank accounts and transactions, with very limited details having been made public.
The KPK has also come under criticism from lawmakers and Tedjo Edhy Purdijanto, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, over its handling of the case.
Many have questioned the timing of the announcement, which has turned into a major political issue.
The GMBI was accompanied by Budi’s lawyers Eggy Sudjana and Razman Arif Nasution.
On Wednesday, the pair filed a pre-trial motion on behalf of Budi against KPK chief Abraham and also his deputy Bambang Widjojanto. They accuse the KPK leaders of negligence and abuse of authority in their handling of Budi’s corruption case.
“We are reporting the KPK leaders to the Supreme Court regarding an allegation of abuse of authority, or negligence, or coercion,” Razman said. “The process should involve questioning the person of interest, questioning witnesses, gathering evidence and then naming the suspect,” he said. “In this case, they named the suspect first before conducting the questioning.”
KPK deputy chairman Bambang has denied that the agency had any ulterior motives in its investigation, which he said would not be treated differently to any other.