Wed, 25 Sep 2002

PAN asks police to pursue vote buying allegations

Ahmad Junaidi and Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The National Mandate Party (PAN) urged the police on Tuesday to question a gubernatorial candidate who reportedly gave 10 cheques worth Rp 450 million each to 10 of the party's coucillors to vote for him as governor during the recent election.

"The police should investigate the case. I know that he (the candidate) is a fraudster," councillor Wasilah Sutrisno told several members of non-governmental organizations (NGO) who visited the council to protest the election.

Wasilah revealed that the candidate, Endang Darmawan, had also given out cheques, which were later dishonored, when he stood for election as the mayor of Yogyakarta two years ago.

"My brother, who is the Yogyakarta chapter chairman of the United Development Party (PPP), told me that he (Endang) did the same thing (giving out cheques) then. Endang is from Yogyakarta," she said.

A senior PAN councillor, who asked not to be named, revealed on Tuesday that three of PAN's 13 councillors met businessman Endang in the Hotel Aryaduta one evening before the election on Sept. 11.

Endang then asked one of the three councillors to pass on 10 cheques drawn on Bank International Indonesia to 10 councillors who had not attended the meeting.

The councillor then give the cheques to the 10 councillors at the Hotel Ibis in Menteng on the same evening. Since the councillors did not want to accept the cheques, they handed them over to the party's central board.

Endang, who only secured three votes during the election, could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

"I regret that my friends were playing footsie with other candidates even though our party chairman Amien Rais had personally sent 13 letters in support of our own candidate," the source said.

In the election, PAN had nominated its deputy chairman Abdillah Toha as deputy governor paired with Tarmidi Suharjo from the largest faction on the council, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) as governor. The pair only secured 13 votes while their rival, incumbent Governor Sutiyoso won the election with 47 votes.

Besides supporting a police probe, PAN's faction secretary Syamsidar Siregar promised her faction would discuss the issue of the cheques.

"I don't know anything about the cheques. But we will discuss them along with other issues involving money politics during the election," Syamsidar said.

The NGOs visiting the council on Tuesday, which included the Jakarta Residents Forum (Fakta), the Islamic Defenders' Front and the Betawi People's Association, also urged the police to investigate the allegations of money politics during the election.

"With or without public complaints, the police should investigate the case," Fakta chairman Azas Tigor Nainggolan said.

Meanwhile, city police spokesman Sr. Comr. Anton Bachrul Alam said that the police were still investigating the bribery case.

Police have already questioned gubernatorial candidate Mahfudz Djaelani, who earlier claimed to have paid Rp 200 million to 40 councillors as a down payment out of a total Rp 2 billion if the councillors elected him as a governor.

Mahfudz then retracted his statement and told police that the money was used to pay for dinners with the councillors over the last two years.