SBY Talks Tough, But Is Anybody Listening?
Arientha Primanita, Markus Junianto Sihaloho & SP/Robertus Wardi
Despite a public speech on Thursday attacking his ministers and other high-ranking officials for their involvement in graft cases, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has declined to take substantive action against them.
In one of his most direct attacks against his own cabinet members, Yudhoyono accused several ministers, lawmakers and businesspeople of conspiring to steal money belonging to the state.
He said that from the planning to the execution of some projects, the state has lost trillions of rupiah due to corruption among officials and businesspeople.
“I’m serious. I know a lot of things [about the corruption going on],” Yudhoyono said at a Cabinet meeting late on Thursday night. “I have valid information but I trust law enforcement and the Corruption Eradication Commission [KPK].”
The Business Competition Supervisory Commission (KPPU) has estimated that about Rp 200 trillion ($21.2 billion) is embezzled every year through rigged bids.
State Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan has previously claimed that 70 percent of the project tenders won by state companies were obtained through corruption.
Beside attacking corrupt officials, Yudhoyono also criticized ministers from various political parties for putting their political agendas for the 2014 election ahead of the work they should be doing for the good of the country.
“Those who are unable to do his state duty should just resign,” he said.
However, a number of observers and lawmakers accused Yudhoyono of having an all-talk, no-action approach, despite his stinging words.
“It’s just cosmetic,” said Yunarto Wijaya, a political analyst from Charta Politika. “He was the one who chose his cabinet members from the political parties. As a president, he can just fire them rather than make a public statement.”
He added that all eyes were now on 2014, and ministers — some of whom are also chairmen of their political parties — wanted to make sure their parties had the financial resources to garner votes in the election, prompting some to resort to stealing state money.
“They are divided between doing their jobs as ministers and as political party officials,” Yunarto said.
Nurul Arifin, a Golkar Party deputy secretary general, agreed that Yudhoyono’s statements would not lead to action.
Asked if Yudhoyono would replace h is troubled ministers, she said: “He can’t be that dramatic.”
Tjahjo Kumolo, secretary general of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), questioned what Yudhoyono would do with the information he claimed to have on graft-tainted ministers.
“Will he summon them, have them investigated, or hand over the data to the KPK?” Tjahjo said. “Or will he be silent?”
Several antigraft activists have asked the KPK to question the president after his revelation that he had information against the ministers.
“It’s his own statement. So the KPK can ask for clarification,” said Uchok Sky Khadafi, an official with the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (Fitra).
There are 18 ministers representing six political parties in the cabinet.
Several have been accused in graft cases. Youth and Sports Affairs Minister Andi Mallarangeng, from Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, has been implicated in two graft cases, while Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar, chairman of the National Awakening Party (PKB), is also involved in two cases.
Religious Affairs Minister Suryadarma Ali, chairman of the United Development Party (PPP), has been implicated in a Koran procurement scandal.
All have denied any link to the cases.