Anies answers call for summons over Formula E irregularities

The non-party politician was hopeful that the information he provided would shed light on the issues that were being investigated by the antigraft body.

Nina A. Loasana

Nina A. Loasana

The Jakarta Post


Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan speaks during a media visit in Jakarta, on Jan. 9, 2017. (JP/Wienda Parwitasari)

September 8, 2022

JAKARTA – Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan fulfilled a summons from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on Wednesday in relation to graft allegations surrounding the Formula E electric motorsport race, one of his flagship programs that was held in the capital in June.

Anies arrived alone at around 9:30 a.m. at the KPK office in South Jakarta and was grilled by investigators for 11 hours. After questioning concluded, he told the press that he was “elated to be able to help the KPK carry out its duties”.

The non-party politician was also hopeful the information he provided would shed light on the issues that were being investigated by the antigraft body, reported.

KPK investigators have been scrutinizing the contract to host the race since last year and have called in several city councilors for questioning.

Other figures have also been called up, including those who introduced Anies to the Formula E organizers.

KPK deputy head Alexander Marwata previously said that the governor would be asked to provide context about the planning and budgeting processes, including how the city administration was able to get the offer to host the race.

The antigraft body also wanted to dig into the financial aspects of the sporting event, as well as its execution. It is reported that the race had yet to be audited.

Anies previously said he would comply with the summons and help with the investigation.

‘Political’ event

The Jakarta Formula E race had become a point of contention among Anies’ political opponents since its announcement in 2019, with critics expressing doubt over the city’s financial and technical capabilities to host, especially in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In August of last year, staunch critics of the governor at the city council called for a petition to interpellate Anies, but it failed after other councilors rejected the proposal.

The race was eventually held at Ancol Beach in North Jakarta in June, after a two-year delay, and was largely hailed a success, even if it was overshadowed by the PR buzz of other events such as the Mandalika MotoGP.

Some 22,000 tickets and a variety of merchandise were sold out around a week before the event, according to the Formula E organizer.

But some critics questioned the length of the contract, which extends beyond the Jakarta governor’s term. The city administration is to host the race annually until 2024.

City councilors like Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Gilbert Simanjuntak raised the issue of auditing compliance and the long-term feasibility of the racing event for the city’s coffers.

“I hope the KPK uncovers any administrative violations that took place during the organization of the Formula E. […] There was a lot of abuse of power during the execution of the sporting event,” he claimed on Wednesday.

Others, meanwhile, have risen up to defend the governor. Bambang Widjojanto, a former member of the governor’s Team for Accelerated Development (TGUPP), accused some higher-ups within the KPK of forcing the probe.

“There are one or two KPK executives who are allegedly politically affiliated [with Anies’ opponents], and they insist on continuing the investigation into the race,” Bambang was quoted by as saying.

“It is happening because of seething political tensions heading into a political year before the 2024 elections,” he claimed.

Anies, the only potential presidential candidate outside of the pro-government coalition, has consistently ranked among the top-three contenders for the presidential bid in various public opinion polls.

Some parties have floated the idea of nominating Anies in 2024, but it is still unclear if he could secure a nomination.

KPK head Firli Bahuri said that the graftbusters had no other motive than to paint a clear picture of the corruption allegations surrounding the Formula E race.

“We want to investigate whether there was any corruption during the execution of the race. We want to make it all clear,” Firli said separately on Wednesday.

Political analyst Adi Prayitno of Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University said that Anies had taken the right approach by tackling allegations of corruption headfirst.

“As a responsible public official, Anies has no other choice but to comply with the KPK summons. Anies has made the right move to explain everything to the investigators, as transparently as possible,” he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

This will give Anies a chance to shut down any speculation and baseless accusations [thrown at him] for good.”

Editor’s note: Updated with comments after questioning.

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