Thursday, October 28, 2021

Indonesia’s deputy parliament speaker arrested for corruption

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Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has arrested the deputy speaker of the country’s House of Representatives for allegedly trying to bribe one of its officials.

Azis Syamsuddin, 51, was arrested on Sept. 24 and charged a day later after failing to answer a summons to appear for questioning in connection with the bribery scandal.

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He is accused of trying to bribe a KPK investigator to drop a graft investigation into allegations he demanded a commission on a budget allocation for his constituency in Lampung province.

He allegedly demanded an 8 percent commission to approve a special allocation of funds for Central Lampung district in 2017 while he was still serving as chairman of the parliament’s budget committee.

KPK chief Firli Bahuri told a livestreamed press conference on Sept. 25 that Syamsuddin,  a senior Golkar party politician and another party member tried in August last year to each pay the KPK investigator 2 billion rupiah (about US$140,000) each to drop the probe.

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Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko, executive secretary of the Indonesian bishops’ Commission for the Laity, said if the allegation was true it would mean yet another stain on the reputation of high-ranking politicians in Indonesia.

“They must serve as role models to the people. Alas, some fail to do so. They should be focusing on the people’s welfare not their own. This is not what statesmen do,” he said.

Many high-ranking politicians have been jailed in graft scandals over the years. The most recent was Juliari Batubara, a Christian former cabinet minister, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison for embezzling more than $2 million in Covid-19 relief program funds.

Setya Novanto, a former chairman of the House of Representatives, was sentenced to 15 years in prison back in 2018 for conspiring with dozens of other people to steal $170m from $440m in funding for a new electronic identity card system.

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