No More Lies, Yasonna

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  • Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly. ANTARA/Indrianto Eko Suwarso

    Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly. ANTARA/Indrianto Eko Suwarso

    TEMPO.CO, JakartaAfter an investigative report by Tempo, Yasonna Laoly finally acknowledged that Harun Masiku had returned to Indonesia. An apparent conflict of interest.

    THE immigration authority has lost considerable credibility because of the Harun Masiku affair. A series of lies were told, some simply to obscure the location of the man accused of bribing General Elections Commission member Wahyu Setiawan.

    It is all a result of the two faces of Yasonna Hamonangan Laoly, Minister of Justice and Human Rights. He is simultaneously a subordinate of President Joko Widodo and an official of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP). He has shown a massive conflict of interest because of these two positions.

    As Justice Minister, Yasonna should ensure that Indonesian immigration is speedy and accurate. On the other hand, as a politician, he needs to ensure his party is not the subject of criminal investigations – including in the Harun Masiku case. He carried out this role in a vulgar fashion by, among other things, organizing a press conference in the name of the PDIP legal team to question the move by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arresting Wahyu Setiawan.

    Harun, a legislative candidate from the PDIP, is the key to uncovering the Wahyu bribery case. After garnering only the fifth largest share of votes in last year’s legislative election, his party put him forward to replace Nazarudin Kiemas, who got the most votes but had died three weeks before the election. However, according to the law, the candidate with the second largest vote share, Riezky Aprilia, should have been declared elected.

    Harun is accused of paying a Rp900 million bribe to Wahyu to ensure he became a DPR member. Wahyu was arrested by KPK officials on January 8, but Harun managed to escape with the help of party colleagues. It was claimed he was hiding in the police housing complex together with PDIP General Secretary Hasto Kristiyanto. The chorus of lies then started. Several government officials claimed that Harun had left Indonesia two days before the arrests.

    Head of public relations at the Immigration Directorate General Arvin Gumilang stated that there was no record of Harun returning to Indonesia. Yasonna then issued a similar statement saying, “The point is, Harun is still outside Indonesia.” KPK chair Firli Bahuri and other KPK leaders seemed to take this at face value. They were not serious in pursuing Harun, or investigating the possible involvement of other PDIP politicians.

    An investigation by Tempo uncovered this disinformation campaign. Flight manifests, recordings from CCTV cameras at Soekarno-Hatta airport and a statement by his wife, all confirmed that Harun had returned to Indonesia on January 7. Immigration Director General Ronny Sompie finally admitted this was true.

    Perhaps in order to save the reputation of his institution, Ronny gave the excuse that technical reasons were behind the delay in the data concerning Harun’s return. The excuse brought embarrassment to the Immigration Department because the immigration system should work expediently and have high-security standards. The fact that data could be two weeks late gave rise to the question of whether our Immigration Department is able to detect visitors seen as endangering the nation.

    Yasonna seems to feel no guilt about these repeated lies. He even invoked the name of the Almighty when he said, “I swear to God it was an error.” Yasonna forgets that rather than to his party, his greatest responsibility is to the public, which demands that the immigration system works well. As a public servant, there is no moral reason for him to keep his job.

    The lies told by Yasonna and his subordinates could be categorized as an endeavor to hamper a corruption investigation. President Jokowi should immediately fire his subordinates – unless as a fellow “PDIP official”, the president agrees with everything that Yasonna did.

    Read the Complete Story in this Week's Edition of Tempo English Magazine