National Education Minister Nuh Comes to Defense of Universities
Markus Junianto Sihaloho & Rizky Amelia
National Education Minister Muhammad Nuh has demanded that the Corruption Eradication Commission prove that the laboratory facilities procurement project in 16 state universities was plagued with graft.
Nuh, who was speaking to reporters after attending a meeting with House of Representatives Commission X, which oversees education and sports affairs, insisted that the procurement project was conducted in accordance with procedures and that there should not be any problem.
“That’s why it [the allegation] has to be supported with evidence,” Nuh said defensively. “Don’t say it happened before proving it.”
Nuh said he supported the investigation by the commission known as the KPK into the case and promised not to get involved in heated rhetoric.
He also defended university rectors who seemed reluctant to face KPK questioning, saying that their apprehension was due to the KPK’s setting the schedule without taking the rectors’ busy itineraries into account.
According to Nuh, Bogor Institute of Agriculture rector Herry Suhardiyanto, who was reportedly apprehensive about attending a meeting with investigators, was on an overseas trip when he was asked to appear at the KPK office.
Udayana University rector I Made Bakta said that being questioned by the KPK would taint the reputation of the campus.
The rectors want the KPK to adjust its questioning schedule so that it is convenient for the school officals.
“It’s not just rectors. You would not have attended if it clashed with your schedule, right?” Nuh asked reporters.
Usman Rianse, rector of Haluoleo University in Southeast Sulawesi, denied that his university was one of the 16 involved in the lab facilities procurement project.
Usman answered KPK questions related to the allegations that Democratic Party politician Angelina Sondakh received kickbacks in the project.
“I was never involved in any bargaining because I rejected the project from the very beginning,” he said on Monday.
Usman denied attending a special meeting with lawmakers to discuss the project that was worth more than Rp 600 billion ($63.6 million).
“I never attended a meeting or discussed the project. I also never accepted Rp 45 billion as had been reported,” Usman said.