Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Wild, Wild, Haj Funds Scandal

The Haj Funds Scandal is going wild. Yesterday, Attorney General named four new suspects including Khairiansyah Salman, former auditor at Supreme Audit Agency who revealed the corruption at General Election Commission.

Khairiansyah, who won the Integrity Award 2005 from Berlin-based Transparency International just two weeks ago, named suspect for receiving US$1,000 of the controversial haj funds that amounts to hundreds of millions US dollars.

By law, the unused haj pilgrimage funds must be kept in one account and used for the benefit of the piligrims, however, the funds were found to be allocated for a number eyebrow-raising expenditures.

Todung Mulya Lubis, lawyer of Khairiansyah, criticized AGO for the selected and targeted naming of suspects in the haj funds scandal. "Whoever received the funds should be prosecuted, not only Khairiansyah," he said.

Khairiansyah lost his job as manager for anti-corruption unit at Aceh Reconstruction Body yesterday as a result.

The scandal has gone wild since the main suspect, former minister for religious affairs Said Agil Munawar, revealed that some high-level officers and legislatorsalso received the funds. The incumbent minister Maftuh Basyuni had admitted that he received US$8,500, a lot bigger than the amount Khairiansyah had received. But AGO don't name Basyuni as suspect.

"Regarding Minister Basyuni, we have to clarify further," said Hendarman Supandji, chairman of Corruption Erradication Team.

Mr Munawar also disclosed that 36 legislators from House Commission VI received the funds along with four children of Jimly Asshiddiqie, the chairman of Constitutional Court.



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