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Jakarta Post

Powerful elites in spotlight

  • Haeril Halim and Rendi A. Witular

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, November 18, 2015   /  06:06 pm

A minister'€™s report to the House of Representatives'€™ Ethics Committee that accuses House Speaker Setya Novanto of trying to broker a deal with an executive of a local unit of a US mining firm is likely to ruffle the feathers of several powerful elites and is shedding light on the ongoing power consolidation of President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo.

After receiving prior approval from Jokowi, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said claimed on Monday that Setya, a senior Golkar Party politician, had requested shares and a power plant project from PT Freeport Indonesia in exchange for his services in helping the firm extend its contract for the world'€™s biggest gold mine in Papua.

While Sudirman'€™s allegation remains unverified, a copy of his report obtained by the media has also implicated politically connected oil and fuel import kingpin Muhammad Reza Chalid and Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister and Golkar politician Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.

Freeport Indonesia president director Maroef Sjamsoeddin, the former National Intelligence Agency (BIN) deputy chairman and a friend of Vice President Jusuf Kalla'€™s family are also named in the report.

According to the copy of the report, in his opening letter to the committee Sudirman specifically claimed that Setya and Reza had summoned Freeport executives several times to discuss efforts to extend the company'€™s contract and a demand for an allocation of the company'€™s shares for Jokowi and Kalla, also a Golkar politician.

The Jakarta Post has attempted to contact Reza, who is believed to reside in Singapore, to clarify the allegations, but has been unsuccessful.

Aside from the letter, the report also contains transcripts of a tapped June 8 conversation between Setya, Reza and Maroef in a Central Jakarta hotel between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

According to the report, Setya and Reza repeatedly mention Luhut as having a role in making the deal successful. It remains unclear, however, whether Setya has misused Luhut'€™s name. Luhut is scheduled to clarify the matter on Wednesday after returning from Australia.

The transcript contains a part where Setya claims that Jokowi approached him during a lunch and told him that Luhut wanted to talk.

Their conversation later moved to a power plant project in Papua. '€œA power plant? Who is going to have its shares. Is it from Pak Luhut?'€ Maroef questioned Reza, who responded by saying that the project was being eyed by Luhut.

'€œThe share allocation is a demand of Pak Luhut'€™s, [he is] looking for [...] Freeport and other businessmen [to become investors in the project]. Pak Luhut actually had a talk with Jim Bob [Freeport chairman James Moffett] in the US. If we can do it [the project], then let it just stay as a secret between the four of us,'€ Reza explained.

The disclosure of the case was made amid talks of leadership succession in Golkar, the nations second biggest party, which is not part of Jokowi'€™s ruling coalition.

Setya is one of the strongest candidates to succeed Aburizal Bakrie.

'€œThe case has definitely diminished Setya'€™s chance of clinching the chairmanship in future congresses if the report is true,'€ said Charta Politika political analyst Yunarto Wijaya.

Setya'€™s main rival for the chairmanship is Golkar'€™s House faction leader Ade Komarudin, who has forged close relations with Jokowi and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno over the past six months.

Given the division in the leadership, Golkar is likely to have trouble uniting its members to defend Setya. The party has yet to issue any clear statement in Setya'€™s defense.

'€œThe ethics council should not hesitate to process the report. But they should also be just and work based on facts. The Golkar faction supports the process as long as it is for the greater good of the House,'€ said outspoken Golkar legislator Bambang Soesatyo.

Bambang, who is in the same pro-Aburizal camp as Setya, also urged Setya to apologize to the public as well as to Jokowi and Kalla.

The case might also bring out a rift between Luhut and Sudirman, known to have close ties to Kalla and Rini, as the former told an audience on Thursday that the latter should have brought the case to law enforcement agencies rather than make it a public spectacle.

Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, however, insisted on Tuesday that Jokowi '€œis actually not affected by the matter'€, adding that Jokowi had heard the recording and read the conversation transcript.

The issue, Pramono said, would not hamper the Cabinet'€™s performance. '€œIt will not disturb the performance of the Cabinet,'€ said Pramono.

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