Category: Politics

Indonesia’s House speaker evades arrest in graft case

The speaker of Indonesia’s parliament has evaded an attempt by the country’s anti-corruption commission to arrest him as a suspect in a huge graft case, the commission said.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has accused House of Representatives speaker Setya Novanto of corruption in a 440-million-dollar project to make electronic ID cards during the previous government.

Investigators came to Novanto’s house late Wednesday with an arrest warrant but he was nowhere to be found, said KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah.

“We’re still looking for him, but we don’t know where he is,” Diansyah said.

Novanto’s lawyer, Fredrich Yunadi, said his wife did not know where he was.

“The family is very worried but there’s nothing we can do,” he said.

Losses to the state as a result of corruption in the project are estimated at 2.3 trillion rupiah (172 million dollars), according to the commission.

Novanto is also the chairman of the Golkar Party, a member of the ruling coalition, and an ally of President Joko Widodo.

KPK first named Novanto a suspect in the case in August but a court ruled there was insufficient initial evidence to justify the step in a pre-trial decision.

Last week, the commission again formally named him a suspect.

A wealthy businessman himself, Novanto met US President Donald Trump in September 2015, while the latter was campaigning for the presidency, to discuss investment in Indonesia.

After Trump came to power, President Joko tasked Novanto with establishing a rapport with the new US administration.

Novanto has denied any wrongdoing.

Two officials at the Home Affairs Ministry have been sentenced to seven and five years in prison in the case, while a businessman is also on trial.

More than 30 members of parliament from the 2004-09 period, plus a former Home Affairs minister, have been implicated in the case.

In April, a top investigator for the anti-corruption commission investigating the case, Novel Baswedan, had acid thrown in his face by two attackers.

He is still being treated in a Singapore hospital. Nobody has yet been arrested for the crime.

Indonesian police break alleged online fake news syndicate

Indonesian police have arrested three people they say were part of a syndicate that spread fake news and other misinformation online for money.

The group, called Saracen, posted false news, provocative memes and other forms of content on social media to suit the agenda of their paymasters, said national police spokesman Awi Setiyono.

The alleged syndicate involved about 800,000 social media accounts and offered its services to individuals for payments, he said, adding that police were trying to find out who their clients were.

“These people were engaged in hate speech,” the Setiyono said. “People must not fall for memes intended to create ethnic, religious and racial divisions.”

Ethnic and religious tensions rose earlier this year in the run-up to the Jakarta gubernatorial election pitting then-incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent, and former education minister Anies Baswedan.

While campaigning, Basuki was charged with blasphemy after hundreds of thousands of Muslims rallied to demand he be prosecuted over remarks that his opponents misused a verse from the Koran to prevent him from winning another term.

He lost an April election run-off to Anies, who was backed by Muslim conservatives, despite winning the most vote in the first round vote, and was subsequently sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy.

Indonesian ulema council issues fatwa against fake news

Indonesia’s Islamic authority issued a fatwa against fake news over concerns about how religious and ethnic tensions are fuelled by hoaxes, its chairman said Tuesday.

The Indonesian Council of Ulema, a semi-official body, declared that producing and spreading fake news is forbidden in Islam, chairman Ma’ruf Amin said.

“There’s growing anxiety that fake news has created divisions and hostilities in society,” Amin said.

“We hope that this fatwa can curb negative content,” he said.

Indonesians are among the biggest users of Facebook and Twitter, and politicians are increasingly using social networks to reach voters.

Popular Twitter users who are paid to tweet, known locally as “buzzers,” to promote politicians must not post content that are divisive, slanderous and false, Amin said.

Online bullying and hate speech are also haram, or forbidden, the cleric said.

Former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is Christian of Chinese descent, was jailed for two years last month for blasphemy in a case that stemmed from a video posted online.

In the video that went viral, Purnama made comments about a passage in the Koran that many conservative Muslims deemed insulting, sparking a series of massive protests demanding his prosecution last year.

The case has fuelled resentment against minority ethnic Chinese, who are often perceived as wealthy.

Jailed Jakarta governor drops appeal against blasphemy conviction

Imprisoned Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama has decided to withdraw an appeal against his two-year sentence for blasphemy, his family said.  Continue reading “Jailed Jakarta governor drops appeal against blasphemy conviction”

Jakarta governor’s jailing tests Indonesian unity

Rallying cries by conservative Muslims for the prosecution of Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama have culminated in his imprisonment, sending shock waves through minority communities in Indonesia. Continue reading “Jakarta governor’s jailing tests Indonesian unity”