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What we know so far about graft allegations against Indonesia’s Papua governor

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Papua Governor Lukas Enembe has denied wrongdoing and wants to seek medical treatment in Singapore.

Indonesia’s Papua governor Lukas Enembe has been named a suspect by the country’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) earlier this month for graft involving 1 billion rupiah (US$65,000). 

He allegedly received gratuities from a private entity that wanted to win a goods and services procurement contract bid. 

In a press conference on Sep 19 in Jakarta, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD said Mr Enembe was also implicated in other cases.

Among others, there were allegations of money laundering and mismanagement of the province’s operational funds.

Speaking at the same press conference, the Financial Transaction Report and Analysis Centre (PPATK) revealed that it has found suspicious transactions made by Mr Enembe worth hundreds of billions of rupiah between 2017 and 2022. 

“One of them is related to cash deposits at gambling casinos worth … 560 billion rupiah,” said PPATK head Ivan Yustiavandana.

“In fact, there was even an unusual cash deposit during a short period valued at 5 million dollars,” he added, without specifying the currency.  

Mr Yustiavandana said the agency detected Mr Enembe’s gambling activities in two countries.

Gambling is illegal in Indonesia. It was later revealed that one of the countries is Singapore.

Also in question is a transaction involving the purchase of a watch worth 550 million rupiah.

WHAT HAS THE ANTI-GRAFT AGENCY SAID?

KPK’s spokesperson Ali Fikri told CNA that the agency had summoned Mr Enembe on August 25 and 26 for a probe after receiving tip-offs from the public.

However, the governor did not show up.

The agency then started an investigation and summoned Mr Enembe on Sep 12 as a witness but he again failed to attend.

The KPK can name a person a suspect if they have at least two pieces of evidence, said Mr Fikri.

He said they will not reveal to the public that a person is a suspect until an arrest is made, but in this case, it was Mr Enembe’s lawyers who told the public that the governor had been named as such. 

On Sep 20, KPK’s deputy for enforcement and execution Karyoto said at a press conference that they know the name of a person who might be related to Mr Enembe’s activities while in Singapore. 

However, he did not divulge the person’s identity. 

“If the person is a Singapore citizen, there will certainly be cooperation between countries to present the person concerned as a witness,” he said. 

Mr Fikri told CNA that officials of KPK and Singapore’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) had met last week. 

“Of course, they discussed about coordination as coordination is needed among agencies, especially when there is a suspected cross-country corruption.

“Not just this case, but also other cases,” he said. 

Responding to CNA’s queries, CPIB said it is unable to provide information on whether any individual or entity is being investigated for corruption due to confidentiality issues.

WHY HAS THE CASE ATTRACTED ATTENTION?

The case has prompted talk of it being politically motivated as Mr Enembe is a member of the opposition Democrat Party. 

But Mr Mahfud had denied such an allegation. 

“Lukas Enembe’s case is not a political fabrication. It has nothing to do with political parties or certain officials, but is based on what has been discovered and a legal fact,” he said at the press conference on Sep 19.

Mr Enembe is currently serving his second term as governor, which will end next year. 

He was first appointed to the five-year role in 2013 during the tenure of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is the founder of the Democrat Party. 

The case is particularly shocking since it highlighted the lavish lifestyle of the governor, while resource-rich Papua was widely known as Indonesia’s poorest province. 

As of March, 26.5 per cent of its population are poor, according to data from the statistics agency released in July.

Papua became part of Indonesia in 1969 after a United Nations-backed referendum which some considered a sham. 

Ever since then, Papua has experienced low-level insurgencies waged by those who want the region to be independent. 

The insurgencies often claim the lives of locals and security personnel. 

The Indonesian government granted Papua special autonomy in 2001, enabling Papua to regulate and manage the interests of the local communities according to their aspirations. 

With the special status, Papua is eligible for a special budget.

Recently, the government divided Papua province into four autonomous provinces, namely Papua, Central Papua, South Papua and Highland Papua, for equitable development and distribution of public services.

Mr Mahfud stated on Sep 23 that 1,000 trillion rupiah has gone to Papua since 2001, with half of the sum disbursed during Mr Enembe’s leadership.

“More than 500 trillion rupiah were disbursed during Lukas Enembe’s tenure but nothing has happened.

“The people remain poor and the officials continue with their lavish lifestyle,” he said.

WHAT IS THE GOVERNOR’S RESPONSE?

The governor’s lawyers have rebutted the corruption claims.

They also claimed that Mr Enembe cannot be named a suspect if he has not been questioned, adding that he did not show up on Sep 12 because he was sick.

Mr Enembe had been banned by the immigration department from leaving the country for six months starting from Sep 7.

The lawyers requested last week for the ban to be lifted so that the governor could seek medical treatment in Singapore.

Responding to photos released by the Indonesian Anti-Corruption Society (MAKI), which showed a Mr Enembe-lookalike allegedly gambling in casinos in Singapore and Malaysia, Mr Enembe’s lawyer Aloysius Renwarin said his client went gambling for entertainment purposes. 

“During that time in Singapore … he was playing to keep himself entertained,” he said during a press conference in Jakarta on Monday (Sep 26). 

The photos were said to be taken in July 2022, but this was disputed by Mr Enembe’s lawyers.  

Mr Renwarin added that Mr Enembe had visited the casinos abroad during his trips to seek medical treatment. 

“To relax, when he was sick he sought refreshment.”

Mr Enembe’s case has triggered protests in Jayapura, Papua, as well as smaller protests at KPK’s headquarters in Jakarta by the governor’s supporters who believe he is innocent.  

The KPK summoned Mr Enembe as a suspect again on Sep 26 but he failed to show up.

Asked about Mr Enembe’s no-show at the KPK, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said everyone is equal before the law. 

“Everyone must respect the legal process at the KPK. All are equal in the eyes of the law. 

“I have also conveyed that everyone must respect a summons from the KPK, (and) respect the legal process at the KPK,” he said.

WHAT ARE THE POSSIBLE NEXT STEPS? 

The KPK can summon a person as a suspect twice, said Mr Fikri, meaning they have one opportunity left.

The agency is considering its next legal move, he told CNA. 

“According to the criminal procedure law, a summons can be made along with an order to forcefully pick up (the suspect),” he said, adding that an arrest can also be made if the person is a suspect.  

Mr Fikri added that witnesses or suspects who are called for questioning but claim to be sick can be examined by an independent medical team in Jakarta. 

When asked whether KPK would send a medical team to examine Mr Enembe, Mr Fikri said: “We hope the suspect can come to Jakarta first and a medical team will conduct an assessment of his health.

“It is the same (as travelling to Singapore). If the person asks whether he can seek medical treatment in Singapore, he also needs to travel by air.” 

Source: Channel News Asia

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