1) West Papuan People’s Assembly secretary detained over corruption
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Archipelago | Tue, March 18 2014, 6:37 PM
The Papuan provincial prosecutor's office detained the West Papuan People’s Assembly (MRPB) secretary, Soleman Sikrit, and his colleague, Zainal Abidin, on Monday for their alleged role in corruption related to the construction of the MRPB building at a cost of Rp 3 billion (US$264,713).
Soleman and Zainal were sent to Abepura Penitentiary in Jayapura, Papua, after being interrogated. “They were detained after we found enough evidence indicating their involvement in the case,” Papuan prosecutor's office spokesman, Obeth Ansanay, said on Monday night.
Obeth explained that his office found fictitious reports on the construction of the MPRB building. He said that in 2012 Soleman, in his capacity as West Papua Political Development Agency chief, allocated Rp 6 billion for the construction of the MRPB building. Then as MPRB secretary in 2013 he earmarked another Rp 3 billion for the project.
“In reality, however, only a garage was built worth around Rp 160 million from the allocated funds. The building was financed entirely with funds from the 2012 budget,” said Obeth as quoted by kompas.com.
If convicted, Soleman and Zainal each face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
Obeth further said it was possible there would be other suspects in the case. (taw)
The head of the Perth-based Indonesia Institute says the announcement by Joko Widodo to nominate as a candidate for Indonesia's presidential race is a boon for Australia.
The governor of Jakarta, affectionately known as Jokowi, has been endorsed by his party's leader and former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, and is widely tipped to win the election in July when Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono steps down.
In Indonesia, presidents serve for a maximum of two terms, similar to the United States.
Indonesia Institute president and founder Ross Taylor expects Jokowi to be elected in a landslide and anticipates he will help repair the relationship between Australia and Indonesia.
"Currently in Australia, we have a situation where the Indonesian ambassador is in his thirteenth week back in Jakarta, after being recalled over the spying and boat-people issue," he said.
"Quite frankly, there is no sign of a thawing in those relations.
"The election of a new president, which would hopefully be Jokowi, could represent a new start for bilateral relations between Indonesia and Australia.
"This will probably provide a circuit breaker for the diplomatic stand-off."
Mr Taylor concedes that Mr Yudhoyono has a better understanding of Australia than Jokowi.
Mr Yudhoyono visited Australia several times during his presidency and his son is an economics graduate of Curtin University in Western Australia.
Jokowi's international knowledge is limited, but Mr Taylor says his pragmatism is expected to help foster a better relationship with Australia.
"Jokowi's considered, balanced and focused approach to what will be an enormous challenge, will provide the best chance for relations between Australia and Indonesia to be stabilised and rebuilt early in his presidency," Mr Taylor said.
"There is enormous opportunity for Australia and Indonesia to partner with each other in so many areas.
"We are culturally different, but we also have many things in common."