September 7, 2022
JAKARTA – Governor Anies Baswedan said he would comply with a summons issued by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in its preliminary investigation into graft allegations surrounding the Formula E electric motorsport race, one of his flagship programs that has long been a bone of contention among his political foes.
Anies, seen as the strongest challenger to the pro-government candidates in the 2024 presidential elections, said he was scheduled to give statements about the international sporting event to the antigraft agency on Wednesday morning.
“Insya Allah [God willing] I will comply [with the summons request] and I’ll help make everything clearer. I have been summoned just to give statements regarding Formula E, that’s all,” Anies told reporters on Tuesday.
KPK investigators have been looking into allegations surrounding Jakarta’s Formula E electric race since November last year. It has questioned Jakarta Legislative Council (DPRD) Speaker Prasetyo Edi Marsudi, and two city councilors from Commission E overseeing public welfare Syahrial and Anggara Wicitra Sastroamidjojo.
Jakarta Youth and Sports Agency head Ahmad Firdaus and former deputy foreign minister Dino Patti Djalal, who introduced the outgoing governor to Formula E organizers, had also been questioned for clarification by the antigraft commission.
“During a case probe, KPK investigators could summon anyone for confirmation and clarification. Summoning Anies is necessary so that the KPK could get a complete picture of the alleged corruption case,” KPK spokesman Ali Fikri said on Tuesday.
“We hope that all parties will cooperate well [with the KPK] so that we can have an effective and efficient judicial process,” he added.
Politically charged case?
The KPK, which is no longer an independent body but subject to an oversight by the President according to the 2019 revisions of the KPK Law, has brushed off allegations of political interference in its investigation into Anies’ flagship program.
“We work professionally,” KPK chairman Firli Bahuri told reporters at the commission’s headquarters when asked about Anies’ questioning on Tuesday.
Analysts, however, have noted that the graft allegations leveled against Anies by his opponents could be politically motivated and that the KPK summons might come off as political, given its timing.
“It is hard to brush off the political impression of Anies’ summons,” said Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) researcher Noory Okthariza. “Anies is the only [potential presidential] candidate outside the pro-government coalition.”
Anies has consistently ranked among the top-three contenders for the presidential elections in various electability polls.
According to the latest survey released by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) on Sunday, Anies is the third-most electable candidate (19.3 percent) after Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo (24.5 percent) and Gerindra Party leader Prabowo Subianto (21.3 percent).
Several parties such as the NasDem Party, the Democratic party and the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) have floated the idea of nominating Anies for 2024, though it remains unclear if Anies could ever clinch the nomination.
The summons, however, is unlikely to hurt Anies’ electoral chances, at least for now, analysts said. ”
As long as there’s no clear corruption case surrounding the race, the allegation won’t affect Anies electability. Instead, it could make the public cynical over the KPK’s motive to summon Anies and sympathize with the governor,” Noory said.
Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) political researcher Firman Noor concurred, saying that, “If Anies could prove that there’s no corruption during the organization of Formula E, his popularity will only grow.”
The Jakarta Formula E race has been plagued with problems and controversy since its announcement back in 2019. The electric race — which was initially scheduled to take place in 2020 — had to be postponed for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the two-year delay, the Jakarta administration struggled to find a site to hold the race and to find private and state sponsorship to fund the event.
The sporting event has also become a political point of contention for Anies’s political opposition, with critics continuously expressing doubts over the Jakarta administration’s financial and technical capability to hold the auto racing competition.
In August of last year, city councilors from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) — both staunch critics of Anies — initiated a petition to interpellate Anies over the Formula E race.
The attempt failed, however, after councilors from the remaining seven parties at DPRD Jakarta rejected the proposal.
Despite various controversies, when the sporting event was held at Ancol Beach, North Jakarta, in June, it was largely hailed as a big success. Some 22,000 tickets and a variety of merchandise were sold out around a week before the event, according to the organizer. (ahw)