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Justice for Papua governor

Jakarta Post Editorial - September 26, 2022

Jakarta – We call on Papua Governor Lukas Enembe to surrender himself to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) who has declared him a suspect and ask thousands of his supporters who are guarding his house to disperse.

We also appeal to the governor as a role model for compliance with the rule of law to undergo questioning after twice ignoring the KPK summonses.

Not only does the KPK have to guarantee the governor's safety, the anti graft body must make sure the law is enforced against Lukas fairly and free from any political motives or personal interests.

Lukas and other leaders of the opposition in the Democratic Party have spread the narrative that he is a victim of the politicization of the government's anti graft campaign. Whatever the reasons, as a public official Lukas bears the responsibility to uphold, rather than to undermine, the Constitutional principle of equality before the law. His demand for privileges to be questioned and to stand trial in Jayapura will only defy the maxim.

The KPK acceptance of the governor's bargain will only create security problems and even unnecessary bloodshed. For the sake of fairness, the KPK must widen the scope of its investigation because it is nearly impossible for Lukas to have done it all alone for years without collaborating with political elites at local and national levels.

Last week, the KPK declared Lukas a suspect for allegedly receiving gratuities worth Rp 1 billion (US$66.200) from a private sector in a bid to win the contract for the provincial procurement of goods and services.

He has faced several corruption allegations in the last few years, including the misuse of the provincial budget in 2017 and the abuse of a Papuan student scholarship fund in 2016. On Sept. 21, the Financial Transaction Report and Analysis Center (PPATK) announced a long list of suspicious transactions worth hundreds of billions of rupiah after examining Lukas' financial records since 2017.

He allegedly made cash deposits of up to Rp 560 billion ($37 million) to casinos. Once, he made a cash deposit of 5 million Singapore dollars ($3.5 million) and bought a watch worth 55.000 Singapore dollars ($38.500).

The graft case involving the governor with an allegedly hedonistic lifestyle, run counter to the fact that the province he leads has remained the poorest in the country, despite its rich in natural resources. Within the pretext of creating a more effective governance in the vast territory, the House of Representatives approved the creation of three provinces – South Papua, Central Papua and Papua Central Highlands – in July.

Earlier this month the House proposed another province, Southwest Papua. Many believe the formation of the new regions in Papua was the result of a collusion between the national and regional elite to facilitate the exploitation of natural resources there.

Lukas has denied all allegations and is attempting to resist law enforcement. Citing his worsening health, he asked the government to allow him to travel abroad for medication; a modus operandi that past graft suspects practiced to flee the country. Certainly, Lukas, who will end his second five-term next year, deserves justice. So do the Papuan people; many having been left behind and marginalized in the development of the province.

The governor should not evade justice, let alone sacrifice his people for his own interests.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/opinion/2022/09/26/justice-for-papua-governor.htm