Since I last discussed the Setya Novanto case, a lot has happened, but none of it inspires confidence in the Indonesian political system or indeed the prospects for the country’s alleged democracy.
As you will recall, Setya Novanto of the Golkar Party was caught red-handed in an attempted shake down of Freeport, the owner of a massive goldmine in Papua and the biggest taxpayer in the entire country. Presenting himself as an intermediary, Setya demanded that 9% of the shares in Freeport be transferred to Kalla and 11% to an unnamed other who was originally presumed to be President Jokowi. Unlike Kalla, Jokowi was not named however, and some days after the scandal broke, the Indonesian press seemed to swing behind the idea that the 11% was not for the President but for Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the Indonesian Presidential Chief of Staff.
Whoever the shake down attempt was in aid of, we had a case where the Speaker of the DPR, the Indonesian Parliament, was trying to extort shares worth billions of dollars from a multinational mining company. Making the case all the more grievous, the whole conversation was recorded on tape and no one has been able to produce the slightest proof that it was fake. So, as a result, the whole thing was referred to the DPR’s Ethics Council, who dithered for days and then requested the original rather than a copy of the recording, even though there was no evidence whatsoever that it had been tampered with. Insiders from the council reported that many members, especially those from Golkar, were merely wasting time and looking for any excuse, however thin, to try and avoid acting against their corrupt colleague.
In the end, Setya stood down as House Speaker, and the Ethics Council, deliberately ignoring its brief, refused to make any finding as to the ethics of Setya’s actions. It is worth noting that they specifically did not deny that he staged a shake down attempt. In fact, 15 out of 17 members of the council had pronounced him guilty by the time the council ended its hearings. But they simply refused to make a decision one way or the other, creating a very strong inference of cronyism and collusion at the highest levels of government.
Why, when the Speaker had been caught committing extortion and almost everyone on the council had declared him guilty, had no official decision had been made? Why was he being protected? Why was someone who had committed a massive Mafia-style shake down allowed to remain in the House? Fortunately, I am not the only one who cannot accept that this is the end of the matter. A group of anti-graft activists have now lodged a lawsuit against the Ethics Council for failing to do their job. The lawsuit was lodged at the Central Jakarta District Court last Wednesday afternoon, according to the plaintiffs’ spokesman and lawyer, Sugeng Teguh Santoso.
It is worth considering what the implications of this case are for anyone willing to connect the dots. Here we have a man from the supposed Opposition who attempted to commit a billion-dollar fraud in the name of VP and the President and/or his Chief of Staff. Setya and Jokowi are supposedly on opposite sides of politics. Yet Jokowi took weeks to speak out against Setya and has been muted in his criticism the whole time. Since the Ethics Council failed to take action, he has apparently been happy enough to allow the alleged extorter to remain in parliament, without having to face criminal charges. It all suggests that the entire DPR is a massive sham with both sides colluding to defraud, plunder and loot the state, as well as the multi-nationals who are brave enough to invest in the country. Unless action is taken in this case, it is hard to believe that anyone in the Jokowi administration cares less about corruption.