National

After all the mess, Democratic
Party axes fugitive Nazaruddin

The Democratic Party said Monday that it revoked the party membership of fugitive lawmaker Muhammad Nazaruddin, the party member at the center of a series of corruption scandals that has taken the country’s largest party into its worst crisis.

“Yes, without a doubt, he is fired,” Amir Syamsuddin, a member of the party’s ethics council, told The Jakarta Post.

Analysts, however, doubt whether the move to fire the rogue politician would salvage the party’s already tarnished image.

The party has officially issued a third warning letter to Nazaruddin asking him to answer the Corruption Eradication Commission’s (KPK) summons over his alleged role in a bribery case linked to a construction project for the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Palembang, South Sumatra.

Nazaruddin fled to Singapore a day before the antigraft body named him suspect in the case, which he said also implicated other party elites, including party chairman Anas Urbaningrum. His allegations raised the ire of other party members and forced President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the party’s chief patron, to clarify to the public on the scandals.

“He defied the law. He has disregarded the party’s commitment to uphold the law,” the party’s deputy secretary-general, Saan Mustofa, told the Post over the phone.

The party issued the first warning letter on July 4, and the second letter on July 18. The letters were sent to Nazaruddin’s house and office at the House of Representatives.

The announcement of his dismissal will likely be made during the party’s national coordination meeting this weekend or just before the event, Saan said.

Nazaruddin allegedly sought a 13 percent slice of the athlete’s dormitory project’s total cost of Rp 191.7 billion (US$22.42 million) for helping to fix a bid to win PT Duta Graha Indah (PT DGI).

He has dodged at least four KPK questionings into the botched procurement project commission by the Youth and Sports Ministry, as well as another graft-ridden procurement project at the National Education Ministry.

The party’s communications chief Andi Nurpati said the party would follow its formal procedure to dismiss Nazaruddin through a plenary meeting.

“We will follow the procedure that we will wait for the party’s plenary meeting soon [to deliberate the decision to expel Nazaruddin],” she said on Monday. However, she declined to confirm on whether the party would slap on the penalty at its national coordination meeting.

If the party dismisses him, Nazaruddin will also lose his seat at the House of Representatives’ Commission VII. “The second person to have the most votes after Nazaruddin in the East Java IV constituency covering Jember and Lumajang in East Java will take over his seat at the House,” Saan said.

Political analyst from Charta Politika, Yunarto Wijaya, said the move came too late to save the party’s image.

“It was the right thing to do in terms of upholding ethics, but it is too late if it is intended to save the party’s image,” said Yunarto.

“It should have fired Nazaruddin once he was named suspect; and they did not. So, they lose their momentum and do not save face.

“It is normal that the public perceive the move, which was made after there was an open internal conflict, as merely vengeance,” he said.

He added that the public now focused on questions about whether accusations made against other party members were true or not. “The dismissal cannot save their image.”

The indictment of the first suspect in the bribery case brought to trial last Wednesday, Mohamad El Idris, the marketing manager for PT DGI, shed more light on the alleged role of several suspects, including Nazaruddin.

The indictment contends that El Idris paid several bribes to Nazaruddin, as a “success fee” to secure PT DGI in the contract tender. Nazaruddin is said to have accepted Rp 4.3 billion in bribes from a total Rp 24.9 billion promised by El Idris.

According to the indictment, Nazaruddin was the mediator between PT DGI and Youth and Sports Ministry secretary Wafid Muharam through Nazaruddin’s subordinate Rosalina Manulang, PT Anak Negeri’s marketing director.

Rosalina and Wafid are also suspects in the case.

The bribes were paid in two phases. In the first payment in February 2011, El Idris handed over two checks worth more than Rp 1 billion and Rp 1.1 billion respectively through one of Nazaruddin’s financial staffers, Yulianis. In the second phase a few days later, the defendant allegedly handed over two more checks to another financial staffer, Oktarina Furi, worth more than Rp 1.1 billion and Rp 1 billion respectively. (rpt)

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