Decision on Setya postponed amid claims of evidence tampering
The Jakarta Post
Following a move by the opposition Red-and-White Coalition to throw its support behind embattled House of Representatives Speaker Setya Novanto, the House's ethics council may not pursue misconduct allegations against Setya.
The ethics council, whose membership mostly comprises Red-and-White politicians, announced on Monday that it had postponed the decision to proceed with the case due to problems with evidence.
Ethics council deputy chairman Sufmi Dasco Ahmad of the Gerindra Party said problems with a recorded conversation were so fatal that the committee had trouble building a case.
He argued that the recording had been edited before submission. 'The recording is not the same as the transcript. We can't follow up the case if the evidence is not valid,' he said.
Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said reported Setya to the ethics council last week for allegedly claiming to have won the approval of President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo and Vice President Kalla to secure shares and projects from PT Freeport Indonesia in exchange for helping the firm extend its contract and continue operating its gold mine, one of the world's largest, in Papua.
The report included a transcript and recording of a purported conversation between Setya, politically connected oil and fuel import kingpin Muhammad Riza Chalid and Freeport Indonesia president director Maroef Sjamsoeddin. According to the report, Setya and Reza also repeatedly mentioned Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Panjaitan as having a role in successfully concluding the deal.
Sufmi said the ethics council would bring in language experts to determine the validity of the recording.
Ethics council chairman Surahman Hidayat of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) said the committee doubted the veracity of the recording because it did not match the transcript submitted by the minister.
The minister reported that the conversation between Setya, Reza and Maroef lasted 120 minutes, but the recording submitted to the council only lasted for 11.38 minutes.
Surahman said the committee could also not proceed with its investigation because of administrative issues. 'Sudirman acted in his function as a minister, not as an individual. We have to discuss further whether this is allowed,' said Surahman, citing Chapter IV Article 5 of the ethics council's provisions that stipulates that only House members or individuals may file an ethics violation.
The article does not mention government officials, argued Surahman.
'We will seek the opinion of legal experts to help interpret the article,' he said.
Ethics council deputy chairman Junimart Girsang of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), however, argued that the council should immediately proceed with the case.
'Everyone from every walk of life has the right to file a complaint with the ethics council,' Junimart said.
'If they [Red-and-White members] are smart, they won't be held back by such a trivial administrative matter. The language experts are not needed either.'
The ethics council consists of 17 members ' nine from the opposition coalition, six from the ruling Great Indonesia Coalition (KIH) and two from the neutral Democratic Party. Ethics council deputy chairman Hardi Soesilo of the Golkar Party denied the decision to postpone the investigation was politically motivated.
'We are just trying to be more careful in dealing with this case because it will impact on the reputation of the House,' Hardi said.
If found guilty, Setya could face termination of his role as a House member. (foy)
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