Justice for the Governor of Papua – Editorial
Editorial Board (The Jakarta Post)
Mon 26 September 2022
We call on Papua Governor Lukas Enembe to turn himself in to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) who declared him a suspect and ask the thousands of his supporters guarding his house to disperse. We also call on the governor as a model of respect for the rule of law to face questioning after twice ignoring summonses from the KPK.
Not only must the KPK guarantee the safety of the governor, but the anti-corruption body must ensure that the law is enforced against Lukas fairly and free from political motives or self-interest. Lukas and other opposition Democratic Party leaders have spread the narrative that he is a victim of the politicization of the government’s anti-corruption campaign.
Whatever the reasons, as a public official, Lukas bears the responsibility of upholding, rather than undermining, the constitutional principle of equality before the law.
His claim for privileges to be questioned and judged in Jayapura will only defy the maxim. The KPK’s acceptance of the governor’s bargain will only create security problems and even unnecessary bloodshed.
In fairness, the KPK must widen the scope of its investigation because it is almost impossible for Lukas to have done it alone for years without collaborating with political elites at local and national levels.
Last week, the KPK declared Lukas suspect for allegedly receiving gratuities worth 1 billion rupees ($66,200) from a private sector in a bid to win the provincial procurement contract for goods and services.
He has faced several corruption allegations in recent years, including the misuse of the provincial budget in 2017 and the abuse of a Papuan scholarship fund in 2016.
On September 21, the Financial Transaction Report and Analysis Center (PPATK) announced a long list of suspicious transactions worth hundreds of billions of rupees after reviewing Lukas’ financial records since 2017. He allegedly made cash deposits up to Rp 560 billion ($37). million) to casinos. He once made a cash deposit of S$5 million ($3.5 million) and bought a watch worth S$55,000 ($38,500).
The corruption case involving the governor with a supposedly hedonistic lifestyle, goes against the fact that the province he leads has remained the poorest in the country, despite its wealth in natural resources.
Under the guise of creating more effective governance over the vast territory, the House of Representatives approved the creation of three provinces – South Papua, Central Papua and Central Papua – in July. Earlier this month, the House proposed another province, South West Papua. Many believe that the formation of the new regions of Papua was the result of collusion between the national and regional elite to facilitate the exploitation of natural resources there.
Lukas has denied all the allegations and is trying to resist law enforcement. Citing his worsening condition, he asked the government to allow him to travel abroad for treatment; a modus operandi that former corruption suspects have practiced to flee the country.
Certainly Lukas, who will complete his second five-year term next year, deserves justice. So do the Papuan people; many have been left behind and marginalized in the development of the province. The governor must not escape justice, much less sacrifice his people for his own interests.