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Jakarta Post

House to summon Yasonna over removal of Immigration Office's top officials

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, January 30, 2020   /   08:04 am
House to summon Yasonna over removal of Immigration Office's top officials Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly (left) and Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister RB Syafruddin attend a plenary meeting at the legislative complex in Senayan, Jakarta, in September. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

House of Representatives Commission III overseeing legal affairs plans to summon Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly to demand an explanation for the removal of his aides from the ministry’s Immigration Directorate General.

"We will together hear an explanation from the minister during a meeting next week," Commission III head Herman Hery said on Wednesday.

The two top immigration officials, director general Ronny F. Sompie and director of systems and technology Alif Suadi, were removed from their positions amid an investigation into allegations that the ministry had covered up the whereabouts of a graft fugitive, Harun Masiku.

Harun, a House member from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), was named a suspect by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for allegedly giving General Elections Commission (KPU) commissioner Wahyu Setiawan a bribe of Rp 900 million (US$65,916) in the hope of securing a seat in the House as a replacement for the late Nazarudin Kiemas. 

The KPU had previously decided to assign the seat to Riezky Aprilia, who won the second highest number of votes for the seat in the April 17, 2019, legislative elections. Harun finished sixth in the election.

Despite the summons, Herman — who is also a member of the PDI-P — said he supported the removal because it was necessary to avoid a "conflict of interest during the investigation".

Yasonna, a senior member of the PDI-P, apparently insisted that Harun had left the country on Jan. 6 and remained overseas as of Jan. 16. An investigative report by Tempo, on the other hand, found that Harun had come back to Jakarta on the following day, on Jan. 7.

Immigration officials, who first denied the report, later confirmed that it was accurate. 

"Harun returned to Jakarta on a Batik Air flight on Jan. 7," Ronny said on Wednesday last week, claiming there had been a "delay in the processing of traffic data at terminal F" of the Soekarno-Hatta International airport.

Yasonna, therefore, has since been accused of deliberately covering up Harun's whereabouts, with critics pointing to his apparent conflict of interest. A petition was even launched calling for his dismissal from the Cabinet.

He has played down the allegations, maintaining that the inconsistency was merely the result of a technical glitch. The minister had even set up a "fact-finding team", comprising officials from the National Police's cybercrime unit and the Communications and Information Ministry, to investigate the "error".

"The director general was suspended to avoid a conflict of interest during the investigation," Yasonna said on Tuesday.

However, Hinca Panjaitan, a lawmaker on Commission III from the Democratic Party criticized the removal of the Immigration Office's top officials, saying it would not significantly contribute to the effort of finding Harun.

"Removing the immigration officials is not enough. [The ministry] had to explain what's actually happening, whether the 'error' was intended or not," Hinca said, as quoted by kompas.com. (vny)