Pressure mounts on Goeltom and Urbaningrum

In this week’s Reformasi Newsletter, O’Rourke reports on developments relating to two high-profile corruption cases:

Senior figures in President Yudhoyono’s Partai Demokrat met to discuss the status of Party Chair Anas Urbaningrum, who increasingly suffers from revelations about budget kickback schemes. The party urgently needs to jettison Urbaningrum, or render him non-active, to rebuild credibility. Advisory Board members apparently beseeched Yudhoyono to demand Urbaningrum’s resignation, but the president has not done so. Complicating factors include internal party rivalries and a dearth of suitable replacements. Prolonging Urbaningrum’s tenure perpetuates damage to the party, with corresponding benefits for Golkar and PDI-Perjuangan. Nonetheless, signs suggest that the Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK) may soon indict Urbaningrum, which would trigger a change.

After a three-year investigation, the Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK) named former Bank Indonesia (BI) Senior Deputy Governor Miranda Goeltom as a suspect. The well-known policy-maker and society figure seems likely to serve at least one year in prison. The move brings the KPK one step closer toward identifying the source of the Rp24 billion in bribes paid to parliamentarians. Witness testimony has affirmed that the funds originated from Bank Artha Graha, owned by Tomy Winata.

Despite these signs of progress, O’Rourke comments that “KPK’s diligent record of securing convictions in corruption cases has exerted little appreciable deterrent effect on corrupt practices throughout state offices.”  My take on this is that the centre is not strong enough–that seriously cracking down on corruption requires a central government not only committed to corruption eradication but which has the political strength to enforce its position.  President SBY rules through a fragmented alliance of political parties, which creates plenty of opportunities for finding support to have corruption charges delayed or dropped.

Note: Kevin O’Rourke’s weekly newsletter Reformasi is an excellent overview of Indonesian politics and policy developments.  It is subscription only, however; more information is available at his website here.

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