Editorial : Another cosmetic measure?
The national media reported on Wednesday “the return from abroad” of two Indonesian women, who have long been wanted for their alleged roles as accomplices in two separate high-profile corruption cases. First was Neneng Sri Wahyuni, the wife of convicted former treasurer of Democratic Party Muhammad Nazaruddin, and second was Sherny Kojongian, the wife of Hendra Rahardja, the late chief commissioner of Bank Harapan Sentosa (BHS) who had been convicted for misuse of the Bank Indonesia Liquidity Support (BLBI) funds.
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators arrested Neneng at her home in Pejaten, South Jakarta, on Wednesday upon her arrival by plane from Batam Island (after two days in the island following her trip by sea from Johor Bahru, Malaysia). Meanwhile, Sherny was handed over by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement to the Attorney General’s Office at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, also on Wednesday.
We welcome the return of the two women, who are believed to have reliable, comprehensive knowledge of each of the corruption cases with which they have been associated.
Neneng and husband Nazaruddin own a holding firm called Permai Group that has been implicated in a bribery scandal involving a contract issued by the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry in 2008 to procure Rp 8.9 billion (US$943,400) of solar power equipment. Neneng was named a suspect in August 2011 for allegedly rigging the ministry’s tender to win the project using PT Alfindo Nuratama Perkasa, a subsidiary of the Permai Group.
Sherny was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison by the Central Jakarta District Court on March 18, 2002, after being found guilty of the misuse of BLBI funds totaling Rp 1.95 billion. Her husband Hendra was sentenced, also in absentia, to life imprisonment while on the run. He died in Australia in 2002.
The two women’s return home on the same day are purely coincidental and they arrive at a time of intense investigation by the KPK into a number of high-profile corruption cases, including the Century Bank scandal, and the 2011 SEA Games athletes’ village construction and the Hambalang sports center construction scandals, which are serious and difficult-to-handle headaches for the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Their arrivals also leave a big question mark over the government’s seriousness in combating corruption as all the previous court verdicts in major corruption cases have only touched on the “executors”, but not the “masterminds”.
Can we expect anything more then from their timely return? Very unlikely.