Graft cases politicized ahead of elections: SBY
Bagus BT Saragih
The Jakarta Post
Amid intense allegations of involvement in graft leveled against people close to his family and the Democratic Party, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the party's chairman, has called on the nation not to use corruption cases for political gain ahead of the 2014 elections.
Yudhoyono also suggested on Monday that the media had played a role in raising 'political discourse about corruption cases,' which he said could affect law enforcement.
'In less than a month we'll enter the election year. Law enforcers shall keep on investigating graft but must be just and fair. There should not be an impression that law enforcement can be utilized by certain political groups, providing a platform to play politics,' the President said at the State Palace in his address during the celebration of International Anti-Corruption Day.
Pressure on Yudhoyono has intensified following revelations of alleged involvement in graft by those within his inner circle.
A document believed to be a Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) case dossier, a copy of which was obtained by The Jakarta Post, detailed the role of Sylvia 'Ibu Pur' Sholehah, a close friend of First Lady Ani Yudhoyono and whose husband was Yudhoyono's classmate at the military academy; and Widodo Wisnu Sayoko, who is said to be a cousin of the President.
Effendi Saman, the lawyer for Deviardi, a suspect in a bribery case involving former Upstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Special Task Force (SKKMigas) chief Rudi Rubiandini, also said on Monday that the US$400,000 in bribes given to Rudi had been aimed at 'financing [Democratic] party activities' and channeling 'holiday stipends' to members of the House of Representatives' energy commission.
Senior politician and Democratic Party founder member, Sutan Bhatoegana, who is the chairman of the commission, has also been put in the hot seat as he is believed to be responsible for the request for the illicit 'holiday stipends'.
'If there are news reports being discussed by the public, law enforcers should make clarifications. Such unconfirmed information gets rapidly speculated about in the public arena. Those who are not necessarily guilty could be 'tried by the media',' Yudhoyono said.
'Extensive reporting by the media in corruption cases is actually positive but must not be driven by bad intentions. The press must not mix facts and opinion that tend to be judgmental. That is a principle of thethecode of ethics for journalists,' he added.
The President also pointed out the 'negative impact' of corruption eradication. 'There has been a phenomenon of officials becoming reluctant to make decisions and disburse budgets. They are afraid they could be charged because of their actions. I have received complaints from governors, mayors and regents that such an issue has constrained development in the regions,' he said.
'Therefore, I call on law enforcers to carry out their investigations in ways that are not harmful to the work of the government,' Yudhoyono added.
KPK chairman Abraham Samad, who was also present in the ceremony, said 'only officials who are corrupt tend to be reluctant and afraid.'
Abraham, who also made a speech at the event, said that the KPK 'had never, will never, and can never be interfered with by anybody.'
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