Chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission: “Candidates must spend IDR 65 billion just to win Regional Elections”

Chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Firli Bahuri. (Photo: Rayi Gigih/IO)

IO – Chairman of Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi – “KPK”) Firli Bahuri has observed that Regional Elections inherently contain a high potential for corruption. The huge sums that candidates must spend just to participate in the Regional Elections create loopholes for regional head corruption even before they become elected. “Our study shows a consistent gap between the costs for participating in Regional Elections and the financial ability of the candidates. In fact, from the data shown in the State Administrator Asset Report (Laporan Harta Kekayaan Penyelenggara Negara – “LHKPN”), it’s a minus value,” he said in the National Webinar “Regional Elections with Integrity” broadcast on KPK’s YouTube channel recently.

Firli stated that the Conflict of Interest in Regional Elections Funding Survey held by the KPK’s Directorate of Research and Development found that the potential for conflict of interest is strongly related to contributor or donor profile. Contributions from entrepreneurial donors come with an expectation that the donor’s desire to obtain business permits easily, convenience when participating in procurement of goods and services for the Government, and security in running their businesses.

The results of the 2018 KPK show that 83.8% Candidate promised to satisfy their donor’s expectations once they won Regional Elections. KPK survey notes that the average total of wealth possessed by Candidate Pairs is IDR 18.03 billion. In fact, a Candidate Pair is found to have minus IDR 15.17 million in assets. This is simply horrible, as Candidate Pairs at Regency and Municipal level Regional Elections must possess at least IDR 5-10 billion in order to be able to afford candidacy. “According to our in-depth interviews, ideally the winner of Regional Elections – whether a regent or mayor – should have at least IDR 65 billion in their pocket. On the contrary, they only have IDR 18 billion, or are in the red,” he said. This large gap between the actual  assets  they  can  access  and the political costs of the elections is a burden for candidate regional heads. Therefore, candidate regional heads will frequently promise things to third parties who are willing to assist them by funding their Regional Elections candidacy. Candidate regional heads who fail Regional Elections frequently suffer from severe stress that lands them in  mental  hospitals,  “…because they have sold out their power to third parties who fund their costs for  Regional  Elections.  In  such cases, corruption is a logical consequence, followed by legal issues,” he said.

Corruption cases are most frequently  exposed  during  political years.  For  example,  30  regional heads  were  arrested  and  a  total of 122 people were convicted for it during the 2018 Regional Elections. From 2004 to 2020, corruption cases were found in 26 provinces, with West Java having the highest number of cases (101 cases), followed by East Java (93 cases), North Sumatra (73 cases), Riau and Riau Island (64 cases), and DKI Jakarta (61 cases). “Of these corruption cases involving regional heads exposed in 2004 to 2020, the highest number involves bribery (704 cases), Government-related projects (224 cases), budget misuse (48 cases), and money laundering (36 cases),” Firli said. The webinar, held as a cooperative event between KPK and the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Election Commission (Komisi Pemilihan Umum – “KPU”), and the Election Supervisory Agency (Badan Pengawas Pemilu – “Bawaslu”) is meant as a directive for candidate regional heads and electoral organizers in the 270 areas holding Regional Elections. The Daily Executor Chairman of Central KPU, Ilham Saputra, exhorts all candidate pairs and voters to ensure the integrity of Regional Elections. “We strongly resist money politics in all electoral education sessions held by the KPU. We also request that Regional Election participants sign an integrity pact. Furthermore, KPU has also developed the Campaign Fund Information System (Sistem Informasi Dana Kampanye – “Sidakam”) app, whose purpose is to encourage Regional Election participants to be open about the flow of their campaign funds,” he said.

Chairman of Central KPU Abhan further stated that money politics is an insult to voters’ intelligence. It damages the order of democracy and destroys the dignity and sovereignty of humanity. “Money politics kill political cadre education. It produces bad quality leaders, destroys the democratic process, and fools the people. High political costs give rise to transactional politics and corruption, as winning candidates rob development funds in order to repay the “loans” given to them by crooked tycoons,” he said

Minister of Home Affairs Tito Karnavian said that the Central Government has set aside funds from the State Budget, and these funds have been transferred to the accounts of Regional Government figures who are involved in Regional Elections. “Based on data per October 2020, implementation of 2020 State Budget for Regional Elections is 98.04%. The budget set aside for Regional Elections is IDR 15.19 trillion, with realized utilization at IDR 14.89 trillion, leaving IDR 297.87 billion not yet transferred,” he said.

Tito expressed his hope that the Regional Elections as a celebration of democracy do not become a transactional event for the victory of specific Candidate Pairs, and that there will be no black campaigns that spread out false information and hoaxes. If it should happen, he would not hesitate to report such conduct to the Police and have it prosecute   as misleading of the public. (dan)