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Indonesia elections: Suspicious transactions worth trillions of rupiah unearthed, activists call for probe

MONEY USUALLY USED TO BUY VOTES, PAY POLITICAL DOWRIES

The discovery has highlighted the “power of money” in Indonesia’s elections, an anti-corruption official told CNA.

According to research by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), success in legislative and regional head elections is 95.5 per cent determined by money, said Mr Amir Arief, the commission’s director of Anti-Corruption Socialisation and Campaign. 

“The power of money is very important. For this reason, election participants such as legislative candidates or political parties believe that the more money they have, the greater their chance of winning the election,” he said. 

The money is used to buy votes, mobilise campaign machinery or pay political dowries, among other things.

Political dowry, or “boat money”, refers to what a person must pay to a political party to stand as its representative in parliamentary elections. The amount varies between 1 billion rupiah (US$64,406) and 12 billion rupiah, said Mr Amir. 

According to the KPK’s prosecution record, some campaign funds have been sourced through corrupt means, he added.

“For example, regional heads who want to run for election (will take from) their regional funds. They also get campaign funds from various vendors and contractors. If elected, the funders will expect rewards … (such as their companies being awarded) a tender for the procurement of goods and services,” he explained.

“There are also those who get their funds from within the government itself, for example from civil servants who give money to politicians. If the politician wins the regional head position, the civil servant hopes to be appointed the head of the department,” said Mr Amir. 

While a monitoring mechanism known as the Campaign Fund Information System (Sidakam) already exists to promote transparency among election participants, “the challenge is whether what the politicians report on Sidakam is transparent”, he said. “That is what the KPU must ensure.” 

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