Defensive Democrats Play Down KPK Claim

By webadmin on 06:48 pm Jun 24, 2012
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Markus Junianto Sihaloho

The revelation that the graft-riddled Hambalang sports center in Bogor received more than double the funding that a minister claimed has divided lawmakers on the legislative commission responsible for approving the project.

Dedi Gumelar, a member of House of Representatives Commission X, which oversees sports affairs, said on Friday that the revelation indicated a serious funding violation at the House has occurred.

“How could Rp 2.5 trillion [$265 million] have been approved and disbursed for this project?” said the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) legislator. “All funding must be approved by the House, so when something like this happens, that means there’s an aberration in the process.”

He was responding to a statement by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on Wednesday that the sports center had already received Rp 2.575 trillion in funding — more than the Rp 1.175 trillion that Sports Affairs Minister Andi Mallarangeng, from the Democratic Party, had previously claimed was disbursed.

Bambang Widjojanto, a KPK deputy chairman, said that while the initial Rp 1.175 trillion was for the construction of the facility in Bogor, the extra Rp 1.4 trillion was for procuring equipment.

Dedi, who serves on a recently-formed working committee looking into project, said it was shocking that so much money had gone into the project when the House had only approved Rp 675 billion.

“This is a huge problem. It’s possible that the total funding was approved under the table by the Sports Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the House Budget Committee. That’s where the problem would lie.”

However, Democratic legislator Agus Hermanto, the House Commission X chairman, played down the KPK revelation and said he would do nothing about it until he received formal notification from the antigraft body.

He confirmed that Commission X had to date only approved Rp 675 billion, with another Rp 500 billion being deliberated, but declined to say how the Sports Ministry had managed to get the full Rp 2.575 trillion.

He also played down the need to form a special committee to investigate.

Under the working committee, the investigation into the Hambalang case can only be conducted by Commission X and cannot involve other House bodies. An investigation by a special committee would be wider-reaching.

The refusal by the Democratic chairman of Commission X to ramp up the inquiry comes amid widespread allegations of the involvement of senior Democratic officials in rigging the case.

Muhammad Nazaruddin, the former Democratic treasurer and a graft convict, was the first to raise allegations, claiming that both Andi and party chairman Anas Urbaningrum took kickbacks to ensure that construction company Adhi Karya won the contract. Both officials denied the claims.