Fana Suparman, Jakarta – Communication and Informatics Minister Johnny Plate goes down in history by becoming the first active minister to be named a corruption suspect by the Attorney General's Office.
While eight active ministers have been implicated with corruption so far, the seven previous cases were initiated and handled by the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK.
Attorney General Sanitiar Buhanuddin broke with tradition his successors had never dared to do – targeting a fellow cabinet member in a corruption investigation.
Johnny was immediately detained with both hands cuffed shortly after the AGO announced on Wednesday that he is the prime suspect in the ongoing investigation into alleged irregularities in the procurement of 4G internet infrastructure conducted by his office.
He is also the fifth minister in President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's cabinet to become a graft suspect.
The 66-year-old is the secretary-general of the National Democratic Party, or Nasdem, which broke away from the pro-government coalition by naming former Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan as a presidential candidate last October.
But Nasdem Chairman Surya Paloh refrained from accusing the government of using a political motivation to prosecute Johnny, although he "had the temptation to do so".
Four sitting ministers in the Jokowi cabinet were earlier arrested by the KPK, including Social Affairs Minister Idrus Marham (2018), Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi (2019), Maritime Affairs and Fishery Minister Edhy Prabowo (2020), and Social Affairs Minister Juliari Batubara (2020).
In the previous presidency of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the KPK also pressed charges against three active cabinet members including Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng (2012), Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik (2014), and Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali (2014).
The list goes longer when former ministers were added, such as former Maritime Affairs Minister Rokhmin Dahuri, former Health Minister Achmad Sujudi, former Home Affairs Minister Hari Sabarno – all served during the Megawati Soekarnoputri administration –, former Home Affairs Minister Bachtiar Chamsyah, and former Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari.
Former State-Owned Enterprise Minister Dahlan Iskan was once named a corruption suspect by the AGO but the Supreme Court acquitted him.