Jakarta official’s arrest for bribery sparks uproar

He is seen as mere pawn in efforts to bring down top poll commissioner

CONTROVERSY is raging in Indonesia over the arrest of a top election official accused of bribing a civil servant.

A government corruption watchdog has accused Mr Mulyana Kusumah, a member of the General Elections Commission (KPU), of allegedly offering 150 million rupiah (S$26,000) to an auditor of the Supreme Audit Agency.

The move is seen by some as an attempt to crack down on corruption among the senior members of the KPU. The influential body oversaw the parliamentary and presidential elections last year.

But some observers here and lawyers for Mulyana are crying conspiracy.

They charge that the noted criminologist and human rights activist is just a ‘sacrificial lamb’ in a larger game being played to wipe out corruption among ‘softer targets’.

Indeed, his arrest came just a day before the sentencing of former Aceh governor Abdullah Puteh, who received a 10-year jail sentence for the illegal mark-up of a helicopter purchase.

The sentence, the first handed down by a new court set up to deal with high-profile corruption cases, was two years harsher than what prosecutors had requested.

Expectations are growing that others found guilty of corruption in Indonesia will face a similar predicament.

Mulyana was arrested last Friday in a hotel room in West Jakarta. He was caught paying 150 million rupiah to Mr Oeriansyah, an auditor for the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

Mr Oeriansyah had been tasked to audit the KPU’s funds following allegations that some 300 billion rupiah from last year’s election money was ‘misused’.

KPK investigators disclosed that it was the second meeting between the two. The first was on April 3 when Mulyana also allegedly gave the government official 150 million rupiah.

‘We have been monitoring this case for a month,’ said the KPK’s deputy chief, Mr Tumpak Hatorangan Panggabean. He said that Mr Oeriansyah was now being questioned as a witness.

Mulyana’s lawyer, Mr Eggi Sudjana, claimed that the whole affair was a ‘trap’.

‘Mr Mulyana did not bring any money with him,’ the Jakarta Post quoted him as saying. He said that when Mulyana entered the hotel room, the money was already there.

Joining in his defence was fellow KPU member Ramlan Surbakti, who insisted that the body did not give any instructions to Mulyana to bribe the auditor.

Well-placed sources told The Straits Times that Mulyana, who was in charge of election logistics, might well be a pawn in a bigger plot directed against KPU chairman Nazaruddin Syamsuddin and eight of his other directors.

A senior government official revealed: ‘It is not so easy to nail Nazaruddin. The easiest option for now is to target his subordinates and work our way upwards.’

Corruption is deeply rooted in Indonesia. Global graft watchdog Transparency International lists Indonesia as the fifth most corrupt country in the world.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has made fighting graft one of his top priorities, although critics say he has yet to show major progress since taking office last October.

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