Papuan regent arrested for alleged graft

Papuan regent arrested for alleged graft
The Jakarta Post, 17 April 2010 

Arghea Desafti Hapsari

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has arrested the regent of Boven Digul, Papua province, for his alleged hand in graft that caused state losses of about Rp 49 billion (US$5.4 million).

Regent Yusak Yaluwo was taken by force to the KPK office for questioning after he arrived at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport late Thursday, a spokesman for the antigraft body, Johan Budi, said Friday.

"*Yusak* was on his way to Jakarta via Makassar when we forcibly took him *to our office* at around 9:30 p.m.," he said.

Johan said the commission had arrested Yusak because he had repeatedly ignored KPK summons "without legitimate reason".

The commission summoned Yusak, a politician from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party, three times over the past month after naming Yusak a suspect in a graft case spanning the 2005 to 2007 regional budgets.

Yusak is alleged to have authorized several mysterious disbursements of state money during that time.

Yusak's arrest comes as a blow to the Papuan province, which has been criticized for not being able to responsibly manage its finances ever since it was granted special autonomy status in 2001, which guarantees it a large portion of the income generated from the province.

The special autonomy gives the Papuan administration a special autonomy fund and a bigger slice of revenue-sharing from activities related to natural resources.

The region is still struggling to assure quality of life and basic services for its largely poor population amid security threats and food shortages plaguing the resource-rich province.

The KPK previously arrested another regional leader from Papua, Supiori Regent Jules F Warikar, who was accused of embezzling Rp 40 billion from the region's budget.

Yusak's case has also raised concerns over the huge numbers of regional leaders implicated in corruption cases.

Tama S Langkun from the Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) told the The Jakarta Post that there have been more than 500 requests to investigate alleged corruption involving regional leaders at the state secretariat since Yudhoyono became president in 2004.

"However, only around 150 have been granted permission," Tama said, adding that there were only six requests in 2009.

He said one of the reasons many alleged corruption cases went unresolved was that many of the regional leaders came from political parties that won the 2009 legislative elections.

"The local attorney offices need to have a permit from the President before they can probe regional leaders. This has made investigations difficult," he added.

The head of the Papuan office of the Democratic Party, Lukas Enembe, said all party cadre had to comply with the law. He said he would leave Yusak's case to the legal process in place.

Tama criticized the capacity of the KPK. "With a scarcity of human resources, they will not be able to take on all big cases from the local attorney offices," he said.