Rizky Amelia& Markus Junianto Sihaloho
A top antigraft official has retracted a statement made earlier in the week that a serving cabinet minister would soon be named as a corruption suspect, saying on Thursday that the remark was made in jest.
Bambang Widjojanto, a deputy chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), said that the earlier statement, made during a discussion with the media on Tuesday, was in response to a question by opposition legislator Pramono Anung.
“I was just jibing with Pram,” he said. “I said, ‘If God wills it, then a minister will be named a suspect,’ ” he said.
He stressed that the KPK would not name any ministers as suspects, at least for the next six months. He did not say whether the situation would change after the six months was up.
Several ministers have been mired in graft allegations in the past few months, in particular Andi Mallarangeng, the minister for sports and youth affairs.
Andi has been linked to corruption in at least two major projects administered by his office. The first was the construction of the athletes’ village for last year’s Southeast Asian Games in Palembang, for which former Democratic Party treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin was convicted earlier this year for bid-rigging.
Democrat legislator Angelina Sondakh has been named a suspect and detained in the same case.
Andi has also been fingered in the Hambalang sports center case, which the KPK is investigating over allegations of bid-rigging and funding irregularities.
Another official under public scrutiny is Muhaimin Iskandar, the minister for manpower and transmigration. Two senior officials from his office were convicted earlier this year of taking Rp 1.5 billion ($159,000) in bribes in the awarding of a development contract. The briber, Dharnawati, has repeatedly claimed that the money was ultimately meant for the minister.
Agung Laksono, the coordinating minister for people’s welfare, has previously been questioned by the KPK over funding for the National Games (PON), while Hatta Rajasa, the coordinating minister for the economy, has been grilled about alleged embezzlement in the grant of second-hand train cars from Japan.
Agung lashed out at the KPK for “speaking in riddles” and challenged the antigraft agency to follow up with action if it had proof of wrongdoing by ministers.
“The KPK shouldn’t have done that because it’ll give rise to a lot of speculation. They’re acting like politicians now, speaking in riddles,” he said.