October 10, 2023
JAKARTA – Three days after Syahrul Yasin Limpo tendered his resignation over a probe into alleged corruption at the Agriculture Ministry during his tenure, the NasDem Party politician met with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Sunday evening at Merdeka Palace in Central Jakarta.
Syarul reportedly presented the President with a final work report during the closed-door meeting, which lasted an hour.
“I thanked and said goodbye to the President,” Syarul said in a written statement on Sunday. “I intend to fully cooperate [with the corruption probe] and respect the law.”
The State Secretariat did not issue a statement on the meeting.
According to State Secretary Pratikno, Syahrul had previously requested an audience with the President on Thursday, but the meeting did not happen due to conflicting schedules. Instead, Syarul later submitted a resignation letter on Thursday through him, Pratikno said.
Investigators from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) raided Syahrul’s official residence and the Agriculture Ministry in Jakarta late last month.
The KPK investigators followed up with an operation to gather more evidence into alleged corruption at the ministry by launching a search of his house in Makassar, South Sulawesi, last week, while Syahrul was on a working visit to Europe.
The antigraft body recently filed a request with the Immigration Office for a six-month travel ban against Syahrul and several members of his family, including his wife.
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Meanwhile, the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) has notified the KPK about suspicious transactions in Syahrul’s bank accounts.
Following last week’s raid, the KPK dismissed rumors that it had named Syahrul as a suspect in the case. Previous media reports suggested that the antigraft body had named at least three suspects.
This is the second corruption case this year to implicate a minister from the NasDem Party, which is backing opposition figurehead Anies Baswedan in the 2024 presidential race.
Former communications and information minister Johnny G. Plate, also a NasDem politician, was stripped of his cabinet post in May after he was named as a graft suspect by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO).
Johnny is currently standing trial for bribery charges that include pocketing some Rp 17.8 billion (US$1.1 million) in kickbacks from inflating procurements in a government 4G telephony project.
The day after Syahrul submitted his resignation, the President said on Friday that he would reshuffle his cabinet “as soon as possible” and appoint a definitive replacement as agriculture minister. In the interim, Jokowi has named National Food Agency chairman Arief Prasetyo Adi as acting agriculture minister.
Speculation has been rife that Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar, the last remaining NasDem politician in the cabinet, is on thin ice over the dire pollution problem in Jakarta and a spate of wildfires raging in Kalimantan and Sumatra in recent weeks.
Some analysts have said, however, that was unlikely Jokowi would make sweeping changes to his cabinet, as stability remained key to maintaining an effective administration at the end of his presidency.