Indonesia: More likely to be implicated in Koran scandal
last update: July 04, 13:57
Jakarta, 4 July (AKI/Jakarta Post) - Indonesian politician Zulkarnaen Djabar is unlikely to be the only individual implicated in the graft-ridden Koran procurement at Indonesia's Religious Affairs Ministry as fellow lawmakers also accepted the holy books.
It was reported that each lawmaker accepted 504 copies of the Koran to be distributed to their constituents for free. Each copy was said to have cost taxpayers Rp 1 million (US$106).
Several lawmakers who oversee religious and social affairs admitted on Tuesday they had received 18 boxes of 28 copies of the Koran each to be given out to voters in their electoral districts to “help strengthen their faith”.
They, however, denied such a practice was part of the graft case under investigation by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
“I received all 18 boxes yesterday, which I have yet to distribute to the mosques and other Islamic groups in my electoral district. Koran distribution is an annual program arranged by the Religious Affairs Ministry, so I think there is no problem with it because it is officially allotted for each lawmaker [at Commission VIII],” Ali Maschan Musa, who represents East Java’s fourth legislative district as a member of the National Awakening Party (PKB), said.
Inggrid Kansil of the Democratic Party has also admitted that she had received similar amount of Korans, but was unsure whether all Commission VIII members accepted it.
She admitted that she had no knowledge that each Koran cost Rp 1 million (US$106), but was informed that the Religious Affairs Ministry proposed up to Rp 50 billion last year for the procurement.
Previously, the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (FITRA) announced the budget allocated for the Koran procurement last year was “unusually” large compared to the Rp 4 billion allocated in previous years.
Jazuli Juwaini of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) claimed Commission VIII had agreed to the huge increase due to the urgency of distributing free Korans as an attempt to tackle radicalism among Muslims.
“The Religious Affairs Ministry told us that the 60,000 Korans distributed in previous years was not enough for more than 2 million Muslims nationwide. According to the ministry, poor distribution of Korans was among the reasons for growing radicalism within society. This was the reason the government proposed a higher budget for the procurement last year, and we believed approving the increase would help support [the ministry’s] efforts to tackle radicalism,” Jazuli said.
The case against the Koran procurement project developed further after Zulkarnaen Djabar was recently named a suspect by the KPK for ordering the Religious Affairs Ministry’s Directorate General for Islamic Affairs to appoint certain companies, including his son’s PT KSAI, as winners of the procurement project.
On Tuesday, the KPK revealed that it would summon both for questioning next week. The KPK spokesman, Johan Budi, said the investigation into the case began two weeks ago and the KPK was still questioning witnesses related to the two suspects.
He said the KPK summoned two witnesses, Imam Faozi and Muhammad Alfian, from PT Jaya Abadi Nusantara, the ministry’s partner in procuring the Korans. The firm is believed to be the winner of the tender for the Koran procurement project worth Rp 35 billion.
“We’re still investigating the case. There’s a possibility that there was an effort to direct [state funds] to procurement projects related to computer labs for Madrasah Tsanawiyah [Islamic junior high schools] in 2010 and 2010 as well as Korans in 2011 and 2012,” Johan said.
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