Monday, January 09, 2006

The Black Magic & Indonesia’s Anti-Corruption Campaign

On July 4, 2001, Indonesia’s Attorney General Baharuddin Lopa died of a heart ailment in a hospital in Saudi Arabia. That was the formal statement from the State Palace. But the then-minister of defense, Mahfud MD, said that time, Lopa and his predecessor realized that their positions were vulnerable to possible poisoning or black-magic practices. This was a reference to Indonesians’ belief in the mystical powers, for good or evil, possessed by dukun (witch doctors). The evil witch doctors are called dukun santet.

Some newspapers that time hinted at black magic in their obituaries on Lopa. Who did that? Nobody knows.

The corruption charges against former president Soeharto were to be Lopa’s priorities. He believed in 1999 that he needs two of documents that the attorney general to drag Soeharto into court. Two weeks before his death, Lopa, as a crusading and incorruptible lawyer when he served as secretary general of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), told a hearing with the House of Representatives that he would pursue several major cases concerning human-rights abuses in East Timor and several banking-corruption cases.

On Thursday, January 4, 2006, Special Prosecutor heading the Anti-Corruption Team Hendarman Supandji, claimed that he was the target of black magic campaign. He accused of those inflicted in the corruption case of Hilton Hotel’s use of state-owned land in Jakarta that cost the state of 1.7 trillion rupiah of loses.

“My bed was full of death maggots (belatung in Indonesian language),” Hendarman told the press after reporting the progress in anti-corruption efforts to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

While he was claiming of no fear on such black magic campaign, Rakyat Merdeka reported on Friday that Hendarman was sick due to higher blood pressures. “I’m exhausted,” he said.

Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh responded the black magic campaign saying he was ready to challenge those witch doctors. “We’re not afraid of santet. We will move on with our drives to eradicate corruption,” he said yesterday.

In the Hilton Hotel case, president SBY had signed an approval to investigate the governor of South East Sulawesi Ali Mazi. Mazi hired by PT Indobuildco, the owner of Hilton Hotel, to process the land title for Hilton.

Two key figures of Golkar Party, the largest party in Indonesia’s parliament, Mr Pontjo Sutowo (president director of Indobuildco) and Mr Mahadi Sinambela (former minister for sports and youngster affairs), have been summoned in the case.

High-profile names like Ali Sadikin (former governor of Jakarta), Ali Rahman (former minister of state secretary during Abdurrahman Wahid administration) and Muladi (former minister of state secretary during BJ Habibie administration), have also been questioned over the case.

Hilton is one of cases being investigated by Hendarman’s team. While people generally praised the team’s drive on anti-graft campaign, critics said it is applying selective approach on the President’s enemies even though the team has been told to move against friends, colleagues, and family relations as well.

Former Assembly Speaker Amien Rais, for example, criticized the prosecution of small-time corruptors while big-fish are untouchables. PDI-P, the second largest party in the parliament, also felt that it is being targeted.

Analyst from Andalas University, Saldi Isra, wrote a column last month titled Tebang-Bilih Berantas Korupsi (literally means Selective Cutting in Corruption Eradication) saying there are too many cases shown of how the process of investigation and execution of verdicts have been discriminative.

He pointed the case of General Election Commission (KPU), Haj Funds, and 43 members of West Sumatra legislative council. Execution of Probosutedjo, a businessman and half-brother of former president Soeharto, only takes two days after the Supreme Court reject his appeal. It’s already six months after the Supreme Court rejected the appeal from 43 members of West Sumatra legislative council, but they are free still.

In the KPU case, the chairman Nazaruddin Syamsuddin had been convicted, some executive members had been prosecuted but other former members (Hamid Awaluddin, the current minister of justice and human rights and Anas Urbaningrum, the head of political department at Partai Demokrat, the party that promotes president SBY) are untouchables.

Attorney General immediately prosecute the KPU whistle-blower Khairiansyah of receiving US$1,000 from the Haj Funds, but did nothing on the long-list of receivers. It is good to show people the equality before the law in Khairiansyah’s prosecution, but it also confirmed of how easy to catch small-time thieves whilst leaving big-time corruptors enjoy their freedom. There are 12 fugitive corruptors embezzled trillion of rupiah each presently evading arrest.

The black magic issue clearly boosted the image of Attorney General’s Office so as to remind people of the same threats that cost Lopa’s life. But we do hope that the black magic issue was not designed to divert the issue of equality before the law, politically motivated prosecution, and impartiality in the execution of law.

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