Indonesia’s anti corruption drive leads to resignation of Indonesia’s Democratic Party Chair
Graft suspect Anas Urbaningrum stepped down from his post as the head of Indonesia’s ruling party in a Saturday press conference held less than 24 hours after being charged as part of the Corruption Eradication Commission’s (KPK) ongoing probe into the Hambalang construction project.
Anas took the stage at the party’s headquarters in his monogrammed blue Democratic Party jacket, delivering his resignation before a crowd of jostling photographers and cameramen. The former chairman was calm as he announced his departure.
“I have no bitterness, no anger,” Anas said. “This is not about power, this is my own standards telling me to step down.”
The KPK charged Anas on Friday with allegedly accepting a bribe to help rig the contract bidding process for the construction of the graft-tainted Hambalang sports center. It was the latest corruption charge levied against a top Democratic Party official.
Former sports minister Andi Mallarangeng recently stepped down after being charged in connection with the same case.
Anas, who once boasted that he would agree to be hanged from the National Monument (Monas) if he was found guilty of corruption, maintained his innocence and said was surprised by the KPK’s decision.
“I was so sure that I would not have any legal [issues] with the KPK because the commission worked independently and free from influence,” Anas said, “but I started to hesitate when there was pressure for the KPK to make a decision regarding my legal status after I was told [by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono] to focus on my legal case.”
Anas accused top party officials of plotting against him and said he was suspicious that they were so confident he would be charged by the KPK.
“It all started at the party’s congress,” he said of the alleged plot. “I won’t explain it in detail, but at the time I felt like Anas was like a baby whose birth was unwanted.”
Anas has faith that he will beat the charges, he said.
“I still have faith for this country,” Anas said. “Our country is based on law. I still have faith that through a honest, objective and transparent legal process, the truth will prevail.”
The former chairman faces four to 20 years in prison under Indonesia’s anti-corruption laws. He was charged with accepting a bribe that was later used to purchase a pricey Toyota SUV.
Antigraft watchdogs, worried that the charges might not stick, urged the KPK to charge Anas with money laundering on Saturday. Indonesia Corruption Watch researcher Tama S.Langkun said the KPK’s case could fall apart if prosecutors can’t prove that Anas accepted bribes while serving as a lawmaker.
Bribery charges are generally filed against public officials, Tama said.
If the KPK charged Anas with money laundering instead, the antigraft body could trace his assets and amass a larger body of evidence, Tama explained.
“We are still waiting for the KPK to use the law on money laundering,” he said. “I think [Insp. Gen.] Djoko Susilo’s case can be used as a standard for the KPK so they can trace the assets beyond the Harrier [SUV].”
The KPK charged Djoko, the former chief of the National Police traffic corps., with money laundering stemming from allegations that he accepted a Rp 2 billion kickback to award a public contract to an unqualified metal company interested in taking a cut.
The commission used the money laundering charges to track down Djoko’s assets, Tama said, including ten homes worth billions of rupiah found in posh sections of Jakarta, Solo, Semarang and Yogyakarta.
Former Democratic Party treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin claimed Anas accepted Rp 100 billion in kickbacks from the Hambalang project and used the money to buy the votes of party officials during his campaign for chairman.
Nazaruddin, who was sentenced to seven years in prison in an another corruption case, has repeatedly pointed the finger at fellow Democrats Anas and Andi, accusing both of corruption.
Anas, as he approached the end of his speech, warned that this case would continue to expand.
“Trust me, this is not the end of everything,” he said. “This is just the very beginning of something very big.”