Thursday, September 29, 2005

Chorus of denials on election committee’s Thank You Funds!

For the first time yesterday all members of Komisi Pemilihan Umum (General Election Committee) reunited but not for their duties to make sure the smooth election process. They gathered at a courtroom as witnesses for the trial of Hamdani, treasurer of KPU who is charged with corruption.

Sosiologist and KPU member Dr Chusnul Mar'iyah was the first witness. She denied all attorney’s questions. Asked about the ‘Thank You’ funds (kickback) from KPU’s supplier, vendor, and business partners, she said that she knew nothing about that. Chusnul, a lecturer at University of Indonesia, was chairwoman of Committee for Information Technology Supply and Ballot Supply.

Previously Hamdani admitted to had received the ‘Thank You’ money twice from vendors that won open bid conducted by Information Technology and Ballot Supply Committee consisted of two payments from IT supplier at US$99,000 and US$60,000, two payments from ballot supplier in April 2004 from state-owned paper manufacturer PT Kertas Leces of US$432,965 and in June 2004 from listed pulp and paper company PT Surabaya Agung Industri Pulp & Kertas at US$155,000.

(The two IT vendors are listed company PT Integrasi Teknologi Tbk and PT Multidata. Integrasi got the US$15 million project from KPU, while Kertas Leces won the US$35 million project to supply ballot forms. Kertas Leces made profit US$3 million from this project.)

Supreme Audit Agency found a potential loss to the state budget of US$15 million from the IT project, but KPU denied that.

Chusnul denied to have received US$110,000 from Hamdani saying ‘I never received money in US dollars.

KPU deputy secretary general Sussongko Suhardjo said during a previous session of the trial last week that initially Chusnul rejected to receive the kickback. “But she finally received the money,” he said.

Confronted with attorney’s question that KPU had drawn out US$10,000 from the Thank You Funds to pay her lawyers in a defamation case, Chusnul said she realized that later on.

Attorney went on with Hamdani’s statement that KPU member Hamid Awaluddin (now minister for law and human rights) had received US$110,000. Hamid denied the allegation including testimony made by another treasurer Ms Sri Rampini that Hamid received the money with his signature that written off by his secretary.

Responding to Hamid’s testimony, Hamdani said that he gave the witness a total of US$110,000, made up of five payments, in 2004. “But I never received in US dollars except for my official overseas travel,” Hamid said.

KPU member Anas Urbaningrum who had resigned and become chairman of political division at Partai Demokrat (president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s party) also denied everything about the Thank You Funds.

While his members denied everything, Dr Nazaruddin Syamsudin, Chairman of KPU, admitted that he had received the money. Attorney confronted him with Hamdani’s testimony that the chairman had received US$160,000 during last year’s election rounds, he admitted of receiving US$45,000. “But I had returned the money.”

Did you aware that the money was collected from KPU’s supplier and business partner? “No, I thought it was a bonus for me as the chairman,” he said.

If I were the attorney I would ask further question, ‘ Bonus! Is KPU a business enterprise that every success deserved a bonus?’ Or question like this, ‘Did you suspicious about the term of bonus which is not deliberated by law on KPU?’

Anyway, we hope such questions would arise in the trial on Nazaruddin who is named suspect in the KPU corruption scandal.

Vice chairman of KPU Ramlan Surbakti and KPU member Rusadi Kantaprawira admitted it was Nazaruddin’s idea to collect money from vendors or suppliers and then share it down to all KPU executive members.

The high profile graft case at KPU centers on, among other allegation, the mark-up of costs during last year’s election and the collection of kickbacks by KPU officials from suppliers and vendors.

While Hamdani and Nazaruddin have been charged as suspects in the case, Hamid and fellow former KPU member Anas, and current commissioners Ramlan, Chusnul, and Valina Sinka have been spared prosecution. This has prompted criticism of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), which has investigated and is prosecuting the case, for lacking impartiality.

Critics say that KPK should put Hamid and other KPU officials on trial, particularly as earlier testimony by KPU officials indicated that they also may have received the kickbacks, which were paid into what termed as ‘tactical funds’ or ‘Thank You funds’.

What about those who gave the money?

So far, no investigation being conducted by Bapepam, Indonesia’s SEC despite the fact that two suppliers in the case, PT Integrasi Teknologi Tbk and PT Surabaya Agung Industri Pulp & Kertas Tbk, listed their shares in Jakarta Stock Exchange.



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September 29, 2005 8:10 AM  

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