Wed, 13 Aug 2003

Council dismisses bribery report, reaffirms election result

I Wayan Juniartha, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar, Bali

The Bali legislative council reaffirmed here on Tuesday its decision to reelect incumbent Governor Dewa Made Beratha, despite reports of bribery in last week's gubernatorial election.

In a plenary session, the council dismissed the bribery allegations and declared the reelection of Beratha legally valid.

The Bali chapter of the Indonesian Hindu Youth Association (PHI) said on Monday it had proof Beratha paid councillors for votes.

The scandal involves members of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), which is chaired by President Megawati Soekarnoputri. The President directly backed the reelection campaign.

PHI has demanded the Bali legislative council annul the results of the gubernatorial election held on Dec. 6, and investigate the alleged bribery.

The calls were made as PHI chairman Nyoman Sunartha presented the results of its investigation to council election committee head I.B. Nyoman Banjar in Denpasar on Monday.

Sunartha, accompanied by Bali Corruption Watch chairman Wiratha Dwikora, said Beratha may have been involved in bribing or attempting to bribe 39 members of the PDI Perjuangan faction to secure votes.

Evidence to back the explosive claims included a travelers check worth Rp 50 million, Rp 50 million in cash and two written affidavits signed by two PDI Perjuangan councillors, Wayan Nuastha and Pande Gde Soebratha.

Nuastha and Soebratha said the pay-offs took place when they were quarantined at the Bali Cliff Resort prior to the election.

On the afternoon of Aug. 5, the two were asked to attend a meeting, during which the party's deputy secretary general Pramono Anung stated that they would each receive Rp 150 million to support Beratha. Rp 50 million would be given up front, while the rest would be delivered after Beratha won the election.

Beratha was allegedly present at the meeting along with his running mate Alit Kelakan, PDI Perjuangan Bali chapter chairman IB Wesnawa, his secretary Rai Wirajaya, his spokesperson Sutena and party faction chairman Usdek Maharipa.

"At around 3 a.m. on August 6, Bali's PDI Perjuangan treasurer I.B. Manuaba and the faction's treasurer Beratha Wiryadana entered my room and handed me the check," Nuastha said.

"I was in such a depressed psychological condition at the time that I had no choice but accept the check," he added.

In Jakarta on Tuesday, PDI Perjuangan deputy secretary-general Pramono Anung denied the bribery allegations, saying the party's central board did not pay money the ensure Beratha's reelection.

He also said the party would take action against those councillors who did not vote for Beratha in defiance of Megawati's order.

"We have decided that they will be sanctioned, and we assure you that there was no money politics in the election of the Bali governor," Pramono said.

The PDI Perjuangan faction in the Bali legislative council issued a written statement denying the bribery allegations.

The statement said the money came from the PDI Perjuangan's central board in Jakarta to finance the party's consolidation in Bali ahead of the 2004 legislative elections.

Beratha won his second five-year term after garnering 31 votes in the election, defeating his strongest rival, wealthy businessman Putu Gde Ary Sutha, who only pocketed four votes.

His victory was much contributed to by blatant backing from President Megawati. Her intervention forced Badung Regent Cut Ratmadi to withdraw his nomination despite the fact he was supported by the province's party chapter.