The week in review: The untouchable lady
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The charming and beautiful Hartarti Murdaya, will celebrate her 66th birthday on Aug. 29 under a gloomy atmosphere. The business tycoon and top religious leader has had strong connections with all of the country’s presidents — excluding the first president, Sukarno, because she was still very young when Sukarno was forced to hand over power to former president Soeharto in 1967. She is now a suspect in a bribery scandal.
As the law requires the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to bring a suspect to the Corruption Court (Tipikor), it is also almost certain that she will have to spend some time as a convict in Pondok Bambu Prison in East Jakarta. The elite member of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party was quickly abandoned by her party comrades.
She was evidently shocked when KPK chairman Abraham Samad declared her a suspect in a bribery scandal on Wednesday. She allegedly bribed Amran Batalipu, the regent of Buol, Central Sulawesi. Amran is waiting for his trial.
The chairman of the Indonesian Buddhists Association (Walubi) allegedly paid Rp 3 billion (US$318,000) bribe to Regent Amran to obtain business permits for her two companies. She insisted upon her innocence and described herself as a victim of extortion by the regent.
The KPK is striking back after being bullied for months by House of Representatives (DPR) members and police generals at the National Police Headquarter because of its aggressiveness in chasing corruption suspects at the two institutions. The legislators demonstratively refused to allow the KPK to build a new headquarters, although they know very well it has been allocated in the state budget and the new building is urgently needed.
Although the anticorruption law has made it very clear that the KPK has the full authority to handle the case, police have persistently refused to allow the anti-graft agency to investigate a corruption case at the National Police Traffic Corps’ headquarter in South Jakarta. The KPK has declared an active two-star general, Ins. Gen. Djoko Susilo a suspect in the procurement of driving simulators worth Rp 198.7 billion.
President Yudhoyono — widely known for his reluctance to make tough decisions on politically-sensitive major corruption cases — met with Abraham and National Police Chief Timur Pradopo on Wednesday. Yudhoyono reportedly told Timur to give up and let the KPK handle the case. Timur knows very well the dangers he might have to face from his generals when he bows to the public outcries to let the KPK handle the corruption case. Several top cops have been linked to the case, including Timur’s deputy.
The Constitutional Court will likely be the last resort for a face-saving formula to decide whether the KPK or the police should be in charge to investigate the graft scandal.
Separately, President Yudhoyono warned local leaders on Tuesday over the danger of the increasing mining permit problems. He pointed out the conflicts could become deadly time bombs if the government was not able to take drastic measures to overcome the sources of danger.
The “out of control” local autonomy implementation and the Law on Mining in 2009 that grants regency administrations to issue mining permits are among major factors responsible for the chaos. Since 2009, local governments have granted more than 10,000 mining permits compared to only 597 before the issuance of the law.
According to the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, it registered 1,029 disputes and only 4,626 of the total 10,566 active mining permits that had obtained full legal status. Many of the permits are overlapping because the local authorities ignored the mapping system and the basic procedures that have been ruled by the central government.
Several fatal conflicts have occurred in the regions, including in Bima, West Nusa Tenggara.
British company Churchill Mining has brought the central government before an international arbitration tribunal following the government’s failure to overcome the mining company’s dispute with the East Kutai Regency in East Kalimantan over an overlapping mining permit.
The Supreme Court put Depok Mayor Nur Mahmudi Ismail in legal limbo following its recent verdict to annul his win in the mayoral election in 2010. The Constitutional Court has declared the former president of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) won his reelection two year ago. The Supreme Court will likely be ignored by the Depok General Elections Commission (KPUD) for pragmatic reasons. The mayor, however, may have to endure prolonged bullying from his political opponents.
On Wednesday, Sujiatmi Notomiatdjo said she had forgiven dangdut singer Rhoma Irama after wrongly identifying the mother of Solo Mayor Jokowi as a Christian. Sujiatmo said she and her husband had performed their haj pilgrimage 12 years ago.
“I have forgiven Bang Haji [Rhoma Irama]. Maybe he has a lot on his mind and blurted out the comment,” said Sujiatmi. In his sermon in a mosque in Jakarta Rhoma urged Muslims not to vote for Jokowi and his partner Ahok in the Sept. 20 gubernatorial run off because Jokowi’s mother is a Christian and because Ahok was a Chinese and Christian.
Later in a tearful press conference, Rhoma defended his remarks saying he was only fulfilling his obligations as a good Muslim.
Visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met with President Yudhoyono at the Merdeka Palace on Friday. They discussed several issues, including the South China Sea conflict. Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa refused to disclose the details of the discussion, knowing the sensitivity of the issue for his guest.
— Kornelius Purba
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