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Gen-Z councillor faces ethics probe after Twitter posts about budget shenanigans

Jakarta Post - November 5, 2019

Jakarta – Born in 1996, William Aditya Sarana, a politician from the nascent Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), is the youngest and only Generation Z (Gen-Z) member of the City Council. His older colleagues seem to be struggling with his way of doing things.

The 23-year-old politician has ruffled feathers in the city bureaucracy after exposing questionable allocations in the proposed 2020 city budget through social media and the press.

He posted on his Twitter and Instagram accounts, @willsarana, on Oct. 29 about a budget allocation of Rp 82 billion (US$5.9 million) for multipurpose glue in the city's 2020 budget. The line item was proposed by the West Jakarta Education Agency.

At a glance, the figure may look innocuous, but William explained that the glue will be given to 37,500 students in Jakarta, meaning that the city administration will distribute two cans of glue to every student every month.

"Why do our students need two cans of glue every month? Please explain," he wrote. The Twitter post, shared by more than 28,000 people, and the Instagram post, liked by more than 2,000 people, went viral almost instantly.

William and another PSI councillor Idris Ahmad then held a press conference to expose other line items they thought had unreasonable prices. These included Rp 124 billion for pens, Rp 121 billion for computers and Rp 66 billion for storage servers.

William said the party was able to access a website, apbd.jakarta.go.id, to examine the 2020 city budget line items for each program and activity.

Former Jakarta Development Planning Board (Bappeda) head Sri Mahendra Satria Wirawan, who has since resigned, previously brushed off the criticism. He said the spending items in question were "dummy" line items as the current deliberations for the 2020 draft budget priorities and ceiling (KUA-PPAS) were limited to the budget ceiling. He said line items and their costs were still provisional.

William, a fresh graduate from the University of Indonesia (UI) law school, is one of 59 new councillors. He received 12,295 votes in electoral district Jakarta 9, which includes Kalideres, Cengkareng and Tambora in West Jakarta.

His party is new to the city's political scene. This is the first time the PSI has participated in a general election and has gained seats in the City Council.

The party members, predominantly young politicians, repeatedly criticized the city administration for not being transparent about the city budget, as the Bappeda had yet to make the proposed city budget accessible to the public through the website.

Responding to the recent city budget turmoil, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said he had noticed the irregularities even before the issue went viral.

In a video published on the city administration's official Youtube account on Oct. 30, Anies scrutinizes the 2020 planned budget allocation for stationery items, among others.

Anies said he would "upgrade" the electronic budgeting system, or e-budget, to improve the budgeting process. The upgraded system will be ready for implementation in January of next year. Anies claimed this upgrade was prepared long before the issue went viral.

William's whistle blowing has also caused a stir among the public and other councillors.

During a meeting of the Council's Commission A, which oversees government activities, a senior politician from the Gerindra Party, Ingard Joshua, publicly criticized William for his lack of manners in revealing budget irregularities to the public before the City Council had discussed the issue.

Ingard, who has been reelected three times as a member of different political parties, said such information should have been discussed in meetings between the councillors and the administration. Incomplete information outside of the deliberation period would cause a stir among public, he said.

NGO Maju Kotanya Bahagia Warganya organizational head Sugiyanto reported William to the council's consultative body for allegedly violating its code of ethics.

Council consultative body deputy head Oman Rohman Rakinda of the Democratic Party told reporters after the body's internal meeting on Tuesday that it would summon William as a follow-up measure to the report. "We will summon William for an explanation, probably on Nov. 11," he said.

The body has yet to conclude whether William violated ethics. Further discussion about the council's code of ethics would have to take place, Oman said.

"We will dig deeper into the case – whether [councillors are allowed] to use their right to question [the city administration] only in meetings or also in the media," he said. "I will follow [the procedure] as best I can," William said on Tuesday.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/11/05/gen-z-councillor-faces-ethics-probe-after-instagram-posts-about-budget-shenanigans.html