Regent of Indonesia’s new capital site ‘caught red-handed’ in alleged corruption case: Anti-graft agency

15-Jan-2022 Intellasia | CNA | 5:02 AM Print This Post

The regent of Penajam Paser Utara in Indonesia’s East Kalimantan province, where the country’s new capital is planned to be relocated, has been arrested by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

When asked by CNA, the agency’s acting spokesman Ali Fikri confirmed on Thursday (January 13) that the regent was arrested in Jakarta on Wednesday in the late afternoon.

“Yes, so the KPK caught people red-handed yesterday late afternoon in Jakarta and East Kalimantan. Among them, there were seven people (who were) caught red-handed in Jakarta, including the regent of Penajam Paser Utara, several civil servants and some from the private sector,” Fikri said.

“In East Kalimantan, the KPK caught four people, namely civil servants and from the private sector.”

The spokesman revealed that the arrests were made in connection with allegations of corruption, specifically related to allegations of bribery.

“So there is some act of awarding and accepting (bribery) involving state officials, in this case, one of them is the regent of Penajam Paser Utara,” said Fikri.

Officials from the KPK are still investigating the 11 people and are expected to provide further details, including the exact case and chronology, in a press conference on Thursday night.

Fikri also told CNA that some money was confiscated during the operation. The total sum has yet to be announced. Fikri would only say that some of it was in rupiah and so far no foreign currency has been confiscated.

The remote regency of Penajam Paser Utara made headlines in 2019, when President Joko Widodo announced that the country’s capital would be moved from megacity Jakarta to the remote area of Penajam Paser Utara and Kutai Kartanegara in East Kalimantan. The regent for Penajam Paser Utara is Abdul Gafur Mas’ud.

The move is deemed necessary to save sinking and congested Jakarta and develop Kalimantan as well as the eastern part of Indonesia, since most of the economic activity in the country has been centred in Java where the current capital is.

Soon after, land prices in the area started to soar. The construction of the 466 trillion rupiah (US$32 billion) new capital project was supposed to start in 2020.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced authorities to put the project on hold.

Discussion about the new capital continued last year and renowned Balinese sculptor Nyoman Nuarta was announced as the designer of the state palace.

Nuarta said in his Instagram account earlier this month that Widodo has approved the final design inspired by the country’s emblem mythological bird Garuda.

Finance minister Sri Mulyani and minister of Public Works and Public Housing Basuki Hadimuljono visited the new capital site this month to inspect the preparations for the construction.

The parliament is expected to pass the draft law of the new capital this month so construction can soon start and the relocation can begin in 2024.

Responding to CNA’s query on whether the arrest of the regent was linked to the construction of the new capital itself, Fikri said: “We are still conducting investigations”.


Category: Indonesia

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