Students occupy Ratu Atut's lavish official residence
The Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
A violent clash broke out on Wednesday between students and riot police in Serang, the provincial capital of Banten, during a protest demanding the resignation of the province's Governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah.
The protesters, members of a coalition of students from local universities, called on Atut to resign from her position as she had been implicated in a graft case.
The students also demanded the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) move swiftly to detain Atut for her alleged role in graft cases that have allegedly involved members of her extended family.
Three students were injured and were taken to a local hospital after clashing with members of the riot police who prevented them from occupying the official residence of Atut.
The students targeted the official residence as they claimed the building was one of the symbols of excess and greed in Atut's administration.
Atut reportedly allocated Rp 6 billion (US$600,000) from the provincial budget to spend on the interior of her official residence.
The provincial government had spent Rp 16.4 billion on the construction of the plush residence.
Atut then made the baffling move of opting to live in accommodation rented by the provincial administration at Rp 250 million per year.
Media reports have also alleged that Atut spent an additional Rp 45 million of taxpayer funds on medicine for her pet deer.
'Law enforcers in Banten have apparently been unable to investigate the graft cases and arrest suspects. So we support the KPK's move to handle the case and demand that Atut be arrested,' Kahfi, one of the protesters said.
In their statement, the students also alleged that graft could have taken place in the construction of Atut's official residence.
The decision to spend lavishly on Atut's official residence was made while many people in the province remained mired in poverty.
Despite an annual budget of nearly Rp 6 trillion, the Banten administration has failed to build infrastructure or develop a poverty-reduction program, which has left Pandeglang, Lebak and Serang among the most disadvantaged regions in the country.
According to data from the Disadvantaged Regions Ministry, Pandeglang and Lebak are among the 183 most disadvantaged regions mapped by the ministry. Lebak has a population of 1.27 million, of which 579,373 are classified as poor.
Members of Atut's family control many parts of the poverty-stricken province, with five of Banten's eight regencies and municipalities under their control.
After arresting Atut's younger brother Tubagus Chaeri 'Wawan' Wardhana for allegedly bribing former Constitutional Court chief justice Akil Mochtar, the KPK has targeted many of her family members.
Earlier this week, the KPK launched an investigation into alleged corruption in the administration of South Tangerang Mayor Airin Rachmi Diany, Wawan's wife.
The KPK is now looking into possible irregularities surrounding the procurement of medical equipment in South Tangerang between 2010 and 2012.
A member of Wawan's legal team, Sukatma, said that he had not yet received information about the graft probe into the wife of his client.
Sukatma also maintained that Wawan had earned his wealth through legal means.
He said that Wawan was able to amass so much wealth from his involvement in the construction business. The work was so lucrative that it was only natural for Wawan to live a lavish lifestyle, he said.
'He made his money from legal projects in his capacity as a businessman and contractor,' Sukatma told reporters.
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