Money Politics Raises Its Head On Election Eve

A file photo shows a bank employee sorting rupiah banknotes. (Reuters Photo)

A file photo shows a bank employee sorting rupiah banknotes. (Reuters Photo)

Jakarta. Money is never far below the surface in Indonesian politics and the eve of the legislative election proved to be no different with a large sum of money found inside a car in Yogyakarta and at least one lawmaker alleging rife vote-buying in West Java.

Two bags containing small bills totaling Rp 500 million rupiah ($44,500) were found in a car in Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta, on Tuesday .

Along with the money were campaign materials — shirts, brochures and volunteers’ sign-up forms — of Hanafi Rais, son of Amien Rais, former People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) chairman and chief patron of the National Mandate Party (PAN).

Gunungkidul Police confiscated the money over suspicion that it might be used for vote-buying.

However, when asked about the money, Hanafi, who is also a lecturer at Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Mada University, claimed the incident was part of a campaign aimed at discrediting him and his party.

“There are those who want to link this to money politics,” Hanafi said, while denying the money was meant for buying votes.

“Ask the police, they know,” he said, as quoted by Tempo.

But Gunungkidul Police said because they were unsure who the money belonged to and what it was to be used for, they had released the occupants of the car.

“We have not found any indications yet with respect to what this money is meant for and who is it going to be given to,” Gunungkidul’s Police chief, Comr. Faried Zulkarnain said.

There were three couriers from Surabaya, East Java, in the car but Faried explained that they were released as there was no evidence they were planning any wrongdoing.

“We have not found any indication of crime so we let them go.”

“They wore normal clothes and were just told by their boss to deliver the money. They did not even know there were PAN items inside,” Faried said. “What’s important is not whether it’s for politics or not, but whether it comes from criminal sources or not.”

Doddy Wijaya, the chairman of PAN’s Gunungkidul branch, subsequently claimed that local party officials had no involvement with the matter.

“We already have a budget for the election so we don’t need any more money.”

PAN in Gunungkidul is known for its strong financial support. According to its financial report, the party had the second-largest political campaign budget in the area.

“Although there are strong indications that the money found will be used to bribe voters, we cannot prove it because the money had been confiscated,” said Budi, of the Gunungkidul Election Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu).

Meanwhile, in West Java, Rieke Diah Pitaloka, an Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) legislative candidate, told the Jakarta Globe that she had witnessed rampant vote-buying in her electoral region the night before the election.

“Last night I went around Karawang, Bekasi and Purwakarta. Vote-buying was taking place everywhere. There was between Rp 10,000 and Rp 20,000 in each envelope given out. Such is the price for a single vote,” Rieke said. “I hope people will realize that exchanging their future for the next five years for such a small amount of money will do nothing to improve their lives.” The Jakarta Globe

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