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The backers of illegal textiles

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Tempo - September 3, 2020

Jakarta – Two members of the House of Representatives intervene in an investigation into the smuggling of textiles being carried out by the Attorney General's Office. This is the ugly face of our legislators.

The conduct of two members of the Law Commission of the House of Representatives (DPR) in causing a fuss over an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) is truly embarrassing. Instead of supporting the work of the AGO, which seized dozens of containers with counterfeit documents, they asked for the investigation of the case to be halted. The excuse that the government needs to preserve business sustainability and the future of workers is completely unacceptable.

Throughout June and July, the AGO worked with the East Java customs office to seize 69 problematic containers of textiles at Tanjung Perak Port, Surabaya. There are strong indications of falsification of documents: the origin of the goods that should have been given as China was recorded as Malaysia. The imports were destined to be sold to consumers but according to the documentation, they were raw materials for production. The documents name the owners of the containers as Anugerah Citra Perdana and Karya Sukses Sejahtera.

The AGO then investigated the import companies and questioned officials on the ground as well as senior customs officers at Tanjung Perak and officials at the Ministry of Trade who provided the import permits. In the middle of this investigation, two members of the DPR Law Commission, Adies Kadir from Golkar and Sarifuddin Sudding from the National Mandate Party, asked senior East Java AGO high officers to halt the investigation and return the containers to their owners. Under pressure from the DPR members, the AGO asked the customs office to release seven containers. The reason told by the two legislators, that the seizures would result in a factory closure and workers losing their jobs, is at odds with the facts on the ground. According to the AGO, there was no factory at the location given, only houses.

The request to halt the case was also very irregular. Members of the DPR Law Commission did not have the authority to ask for the case to be halted or to order the release of the containers. Apart from producing laws, the DPR's powers are limited to scrutinizing the government. But the mechanism is through inviting the leaders of institutions to hearings – not by giving orders on the ground. In this case, the Law Commission could have questioned the AGO and the ministry of finance, the ministry responsible for customs.

The actions of Adies Kadir and Sarifuddin Sudding not only damaged the real responsibilities of the DPR, but also took them down a level. Their colleagues are ministers, not their subordinates. Together with the other members of the Law Commission, the two politicians should be focusing on their main responsibilities: finishing the deliberations of a number of bills, including the penitentiary bill and the Criminal Code bill, which have still not been finished. It is also regrettable that the AGO complied with the request of the two DPR members to release the containers.

This intervention must be investigated. It is not impossible that there was collusion behind the request to hold the case. After all, this is not a new story. In 2011, a number of legislators were reported to be backing the smuggling of BlackBerry cell phones. Nine years after the incident, no action has been taken against any DPR members.

The police or the Corruption Eradication Commission must investigate the motive behind the request to halt the case. The DPR Honorary Council must not ignore it. The political parties of the two legislators must also take action by questioning them, and if wrongdoing is proved, withdrawing them from the DPR.

Read the Complete Story in Tempo English Magazine: https://en.tempo.co/read/1382387/magz.tempo.co/read/37012/the-backers-of-illegal-textiles

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1382387/the-backers-of-illegal-textiles

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