Hailed as Hero, Hundreds of Buddhists Pray for Hartati
Hundreds of Buddhists gathered on Wednesday in front of the Corruption Eradication Commission’s (KPK) office to pray for graft suspect Siti Hartati Cakra Murdaya Poo.
The prayer, led by monk Tadisa Paramita Mahasthavira, begged for the KPK leaders to attain enlightenment on the issue and petitioned them to not cave into pressure from people that dislike Hartati.
Hartati is the chairwoman of the Indonesian Buddhist Council known as Walubi
“They should not impose their will and charge our chairwoman,” the secretary general of Walubi, Gatot Sukarno Adi, said on Wednesday.
Hartati, a wealthy associate of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, faces charges that she paid Rp 3 billion ($318,000) in bribes to Buol district chief Amran Batalipu in exchange for favorable land concessions needed to extend Hardaya Inti Plantation’s palm oil operations in Central Sulawesi.
Gatot maintains that Hartati is not guilty.
Not long after the Walubi prayer ended, a civil organization called the People’s Alliance Against Extortion (AMAN) protested in front of the KPK office as well to show support for Hartati.
The coordinator of AMAN, Kevin Wu, asserted that Hartati is a symbol of the Indonesian people’s struggle against extortion.
“Hartati Murdaya is a businesswoman, an investment pioneer and a hero that has brought development to Buol. She is the victim of the Buol district chief’s extortion in this case,” said Wu.
According to Hartati, Amran extorted her, asking for money in order to solve a problem that arose between the company and the local people. She has denied that she ever bribed Amran.
Amran’s lawyer, however, claims that Hartati also bribed other candidates for district chief.