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Trade minister cleared of illegal campaign allegations

Jakarta Globe - July 21, 2022

Yustinus Paat – Jakarta. The Election Supervisory Agency, or Bawaslu, has cleared Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan of allegations that he misused his authority to campaign for his daughter, a potential candidate for the House of Representatives.

Zulkifli, who is also the chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN), was seen distributing government-subsidized cooking oil branded as Minyakita accompanied by daughter Futri Zulya Savitri.

Several groups of activists have reported Zulkifli to the Bawaslu, saying that the minister persuaded people to vote for his daughter while distributing cooking oil in the province of Lampung on July 9.

The activist groups – Kata Rakyat, Lima Indonesia, and the Independent Committee of Election Observers (KIPP) – alleged that the minister has used state facilities for his personal interests and committed an illegal political campaign beyond the official schedule.

But Bawaslu ruled that the cooking oil distribution cannot be classified as a political campaign.

Puadi, a Bawaslu coordinator for election offense and information, argued that the 2024 election has yet to register any contestants or participants.

"It means the event attended by the accused cannot be classified as a campaign activity," Puadi, who goes by a single name, said in Jakarta. "Accordingly, we will not take further actions with regard to the complaint," he added.

Zulkifli, formerly known as a key political opponent of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, was appointed as trade minister replacing Muhammad Lutfi in a surprise cabinet shakeup on June 15.

He is the fourth political party chairman to join the Jokowi cabinet, in addition to Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party chairman Prabowo Subianto who serves as the defense minister, Golkar Party Chairman Airlangga Hartarto who is also the coordinating minister for the economy, and United Development Party (PPP) Chairman Suharso Monoarfa who serves as the national development planning minister.

President Jokowi responded to the alleged political campaign by Zulkifli when reporters asked him three days later during a trip to the West Java town of Subang.

"I instructed all ministers to focus on their jobs. As for the trade minister, the most important thing to do is execute my earlier instruction ... how to keep cooking oil price at Rp 14,000 [per liter] or cheaper," the president replied.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/trade-minister-cleared-of-illegal-campaign-allegation