Golkar Drops Garut District Chief as Corruption Allegations Surface
The Golkar Party “dishonorably discharged” embattled Garut district head Aceng Fikri on Thursday over a host of violations as corruption watchdogs and a political hopeful accused the man of more than a half-dozen corruption cases.
The West Java Police will investigate claims that Aceng extorted district deputy chief hopeful Asep Rahmat Kurnia Jaya, reportedly demanding a payment of Rp 500 million ($52,000) for the post, according to Tempo.co reports. Asep allegedly gave Aceng Rp 250 million to replace exiting deputy Dicky Chandra.
Aceng took the money but appointed someone else to the post.
“He promised to return the money if I wasn’t appointed, but he never did,” Asep told Tempo.co. “So I reported him to police because Aceng allegedly deceived and extorted me.”
The local corruption watchdog group Garut Governance Watch said the district head has been implicated in seven corruption cases that had cost the state at least Rp 7 billion in losses, secretary general Agus Rustandi said. The allegations included a corrupted medicine procurement project at a local hospital, the purchase of stationary and various health center construction projects, Agus said.
The Golkar Party urged the Garut Legislative Council (DPRD) to continue its investigation into claims of legal and ethical impropriety stemming from the man’s four-day marriage to a teenage girl.
The now-dismissed Golkar Party member’s future as a politician hinges on the results of a two-week investigation by a special Garut DPRD committee. The 16-member committee will investigate claims that Aceng committed “law and ethics violations” during his four-day unregistered marriage to a 17-year-old girl.
But Golkar Party deputy secretary general Nurul Arifin said the party had seen sufficient evidence to drop its support for Aceng. The district head violated a code of conduct law for regional administrators and another law prohibiting unregistered marriages, Nurul said.
“With such an accumulation of violations, he can be discharged dishonorably,” she said.
Party members sitting on the Garut DPRD will push to keep the investigation open, Nurul said. She urged the public to continue pushing for Aceng’s dismissal.
The party dropped Aceng the morning after the district head apologized to the family of his ex-wife Fani Oktora. Both sides agreed to drop their complaints filed with the National Police, Aceng told reporters outside the Al Fadilah Islamic boarding school in Kuwung Siru, Limbangan, Garut Wednesday night.
“After making peace, there will no longer be any problems,” Aceng said. “The two families have mutually apologized and accepted the apologies. I ask that this case be deemed closed.”
Ayi, who spoke on behalf of Fani’s family, said she will drop her complaint against her former husband. Fani filed a complaint with the National Police accusing Aceng of psychological abuse and harassment.
“Hopefully we can all accept each other and our entangled ties will be straightened up,” Ayi said, adding that the family felt it would be a sin to reject Aceng’s apology.
Fani’s attorney Nur Setya Alam told the Indonesian news portal liputan6.com that he was disappointed his client dropped the case.
“We will resign as their legal representatives,” Nur said. “Last night’s reconciliation was not coordinated with us. It’s not the lawyers’ responsibility to bear the impact of this move.”
The National Police will stop its investigation if Fani dropped the charges, spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said.
Aceng visited Garut DPRD officials on Thursday after learning that the committee’s investigation would continue, apology or not, his lawyer Ujang Suja’i said.
“Aceng is just asking that the summons be done according to the formal regulations,” Ujang said.
He planned to visit the National Police on Thursday to explain to investigators that the charges had been dropped, Ujang added.
Local residents began to mobilize against Aceng after made disparaging comments about his then-divorced 17-year-old bride. He told reporters that he divorced the girl via text message four days after their unregistered wedding because he doubted she was actually a virgin. He later complained to a reporter from Majalah Detik that the wedding cost him Rp 250 million ($26,000).
“Even sleeping with an artist doesn’t cost that much,” he told the magazine. “After I bought her, I found out that she was ‘not as advertised,’ so I returned her.”
Hundreds of people showed up for demonstrations outside government buildings in Garut on Wednesday and Thursday demanding Aceng dismissal.
The Garut DPRD plans to make a decision after the investigation’s results are presented on Dec. 19, said committee head Asep Lesmana.
“We need to know the legality of the marriage in the eyes of the law,” Asep said.