Friday, December 4, 2015


 Jakarta, Dec 4, 2015 (Antara) - The ongoing case concerning the audio recording of House Speaker Setya Novanto allegedly demanding shares in PT Freeport Indonesia (FI) has shaken Indonesian politics.
    Novanto reportedly mentioned the names of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Vice President M Jusuf Kalla as would-be recipients of the company's stake, in his talks with PT FI President Director Maroef Sjamsoeddin.
    In the recording, which was secretly taped by Maroef Sjamsoeddin when he met Novanto and oil businessman M Riza Chalid in July 2015, the House speaker allegedly asked for some 20 percent shares of PT Freeport Indonesia in exchange for supporting the company seeking an early renewal of its contract.
   The US gold and copper mining giant, Freeport of Indonesia unit is now at the center of a controversy with Novanto facing questions by the Parliament's Ethics Tribunal (MKD), and possibly by the Attorney General's Office (AGO), too.
   President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Vice President M Jusuf Kalla completely denied that they had ever asked for shares or discussed the matter with Novanto.

        Kalla has termed the Freeport case as the biggest scandal in Indonesia's history as both the president and vice president "were involved" in the case.
         Besides, it was shocking that the House Speaker discussed the business contract with the president director of PT FI as a no lawmaker has the authority to do that.
        The Golkar Party would not be involved in the scandal although the House Speaker is from Golkar, Kalla, former chairman of the Golkar Party, guaranteed.
        Representing himself and the President, Kalla submitted the Freeport and Novanto case to the House of Representatives' Ethics Council (MKD).
         "I laud the openness of the proceedings at the MKD, and it will enable us to know what happens in the Indonesian nation," Kalla remarked.
         The case of House Speaker Novanto proves that despite significant efforts to eradicate corruption, some Parliament and government officials have no fear of indulging in corrupt practises, Kalla pointed out.
         "There are still some rogue elements in the House and government who are not afraid to indulge in corruption," he remarked.
         After the process in the MKD is complete, and there is a legal implication on the contents of the conversation, further legal action would be initiated, the Vice President explained.
        It was Energy and Mineral Resource Minister Sudirman Said who first reported Novanto to the House Ethics Tribunal (MKD) and submitted the summary as well as a copy of the recording of the conversation between the House Speaker and the PT FI chief executive.
        He got the copy of the recording from the PT FI President Director Maroef Sjamsoeddin, a retired Air Vice Marshal of the Indonesian Air Force and former deputy chief of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), he said.
       The tribunal called, respectively, Minister Said on December 2 and Maroef Sjamsoeddin on December 3 to testify in hearings broadcast live by some national television stations.
        The MKD is scheduled to summon Novanto for questioning on December 7, according to MKD Deputy Chairman Junimart Girsang.
       "Further plan of action into the case was discussed during a closed-door internal MKD meeting, and there was a debate on who would be summoned next. Finally, it was decided to summon Novanto in the next MKD session," Girsang said.
       While more MKD hearings are being scheduled next week, the Attorney General's Office (AGO) is planning to summon Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said for questioning.
         "We will invite (him) next week," Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes Arminsyah stated on December 4.
         The AGO also summoned President Director of PT Freeport Indonesia Maroef Sjamsoeddin to continue the questioning carried out from December 3 to December 4 at dawn.
        Sjamsoeddin was questioned by AGO's investigator after testifying before the MKD.
         The AGO suspected that based on the contents of the transcript of the conversation between Sjamsoeddin and House Speaker Setya Novanto, there was an evil conspiracy that could lead to corruption in line with Article 15 of Law No. 31 of 1999 on the Corruption Eradication Commission.
         Previously, the AGO had seized the recording done by PT Freeport Indonesia.
         He had also handed over his mobile phone used to record the conversation with Novanto to the AGO, Sjamsoeddin said.
         "We were asked to provide the original recording for further investigation, and I have given an explanation for the investigation report," Sjamsoeddin said in Parliament.
         The police will only move if the Attorney General's office and the MKD confirm that a crime has been committed in the Freeport case, National Police Chief General Badrodin Haiti said.
         The police could also act if PT Freeport, as the aggrieved party in the case, came forward and filed a complaint with them, Badrodin Haiti said.
        The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said it would not handle the case because it is being dealt with by the AGO.
         In the meantime, President Jokowi said he respected and lauded the ongoing process in the MKD, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung informed the press on December 4.
         "The President is monitoring and following (the process) seriously as on several instances we have discussed and reported the developments in the MKD to him," Anung added.
       The President is awaiting the results of the investigation being carried out by the MKD, which is open to the public.
        Previously, Anung said President Joko Widodo had stressed that the government will continue prioritizing its national interest on the PT Freeport Indonesia contract agreement.
         "Some of the national interests that will be prioritized relating to the contract agreement of PT Freeport are royalties, divestment, smelter construction and Papua regional development," the cabinet secretary said recently.
        PT FI must provide better royalties to the central government and Papuan government for the regional development, he added.
        "The second obligation is divestment, which can be implemented immediately. In term of this, the regulation and working agreement have regulated that Freeport must divest," he said.
       Jokowi has never discussed the four obligations with any other persons beyond the government, Pramono Anung stated.
        "If there are any persons who seek to profit from using the names of the President and Vice President, then it was not true. The President has prioritized the four obligations on the agreement with Freeport," he said.
        Earlier, Parliament Speaker Setya Novanto denied a suggestion that he had used the names of President Joko Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla for illegal personal gain.
        "As the House Speaker I confirm we never misuse the name of the President," Novanto said in November 2015.
        Meanwhile, Chairman of the Papua Legislative Assembly Yunus Wonda said PT Freeport Indonesia should stop justifying all means in lobbying the government for early renewal of its mining contract.
          PT Freeport Indonesia, an Indonesian unit of the U.S. mining giant Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold, has large copper and gold mines in Papua Province.
        "We ask Freeport not to use any means to have its contract renewed. It is clear that President Joko Widodo had indicated that decision (to terminate or renew the contract) would be made two years before the present contract expires," Yunus Wonda said in Jayapura, Papua, on November 25, 2015.
          The present contract of Freeport will expire in 2021, and based on a regulation, an extension could be approved in 2019 or two years before the termination of the present contract. ***2***

(T.F001/A/BESSR/F. Assegaf) 05-12-2015 11:39:28

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