Skip to comments.Indonesian anti-graft activist charged with stealing relief aid
Posted on 01/27/2005 6:21:54 AM PST by flitton
JAKARTA - A leading Indonesian anti-corruption activist has been detained by police in tsunami-ravaged Aceh province for allegedly stealing trucks of relief material meant for disaster survivors, police said on Thursday.
Farid Faqih, director of the Government Watch independent watchdog, has been charged with hiding aid supplies in a warehouse, the director for special crimes, Suharto, told Elshinta radio.
Reports said Faqih was working as a partner to the UN agency World Food Program and had unhindered access to tonnes of aid supplies at the airbase in the provincial capital Banda Aceh.
Faqih was arrested Wednesday by airforce officers after reports that aid supplies donated by the wives of military officers and others had been missing, said Lieutenant Colonel Sazili, the airbase commander.
He was handed over to police on Thursday and officially named a suspect.
The IndoPos daily said Faqih had told interrogators that he had kept the goods at a warehouse just outside Banda Aceh to prevent the goods from being soaked in the rain.
Sazili said among the goods found at the warehouse were computers, washing machines and printers. He could not explain what he was going to do with the aid suplies, he told Elshinta radio.
The officer said furious soldiers beat Faqih up after finding out that the goods had been diverted. The beating was unavoidable because the officers had been waiting to distribute the aid for two days, he said.
Faqihs face was shown black and blue on television, prompting an outrage from fellow activists in Jakarta.
Government Watch secretary general Andi Saputra said Faqih had severely criticized the distribution of relief aid.
Certain parties were unhappy and that led to the assault against him, he told the Detikcom news website.
The curse of the UN strikes again.
Sounds like he's taking a lesson from the Democrats. Brag about your patriotism, when you don't have any. Accuse the other party of stealing elections, while you steal elections. Accuse the other guy of the "politics of personal destruction" while you dish out personal destruction.
Accuse the other guy of graft, while you steal.
The Clintons perfected this technique.
The beating was unavoidable...
The teeny tip of what will become a very large iceberg.
Thanks for that, this is indeed getting murkier.
Your welcome. If I read some more on this subject I'll ping you.
Corruption fears grow as Indonesia probes alleged misuse of tsunami funds
Agence France Presse, 28 January 2005
By Victor Tjahjadi
Indonesia said Friday it was probing an alleged misuse of tsunami funds donated by the public as fears grew that the country's notorious corruption culture was eating into vital relief cash.
Welfare Minister Alwi Shihab said his department was double-checking an audit showing 200 million rupiah (21,800 dollars) had been diverted to fund a conference in Jakarta aimed at attracting foreign investment.
Shihab said the apparently damning audit could actually be nothing more than a clerical error, rejecting accusations money was already being skimmed off despite pledges to impose strict checks and balances.
"This requires further investigation whether it was a typing mistake or if it was something else. We need to check it further," Shihab told AFP.
"Until now, there are no indications or allegations of misuse," he said.
Indonesia is ranked as one of the world's most graft-prone countries by Berlin-based watchdog Transparency International, despite a pledged government crackdown on widespread kickbacks, bribery and collusion.
Corruption activists say the huge sums of aid money rolling into the country -- upwards of seven billion dollars -- will be too much of a temptation for crooked officials despite the needs of millions of tsunami survivors.
According to a balance report drawn up by his office, Shihab said the disputed sum was taken from public donations amounting to 100 million dollars to finance the infrastructure summit in Jakarta last week.
The conference was a showcase for Indonesian investment opportunities aimed at drawing in 30 billion dollars of foreign cash to build ports, roads, and power plants. About five billion dollars was pledged at the event.
Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was voted into office last year on promises of eradicating the corruption that has scared away badly-needed foreign investment.
Concerned that the country's reputation for dishonesty would curb the generosity of aid donors at a time when its people were desperate for help, it has called in independent auditors and urged donors to monitor the cash.
"There should not be any doubts because we have similar interests to ensure a transparent and accountable management of the money," Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda said recently.
Despite these efforts, reports of low-level corruption have begun to emerge, causing alarm among watchdogs and donors.
New Zealand has said it was asking Indonesia to investigate claims its military officers had been accepting bribes to place wealthy people on refugee flights out of Aceh, home to most of the 280,000 killed by the tsunami.
In a bizarre case earlier this week, a leading Indonesian anti-corruption activist was detained and beaten by police in Aceh for allegedly stealing trucks of relief material meant for disaster survivors.
Farid Faqih, director of the Government Watch independent watchdog, has been charged with hiding aid supplies in a warehouse.
The president has ordered an inquiry into why police attacked Faqih, who was last week quoted accusing authorities of doctoring statistics on people left homeless by the disaster to ensure they received extra cash.
Geoff Forrester, an Australian former aid official in Indonesia, said deep divisions in Jakarta's government over aid distribution would provide ruthless officials with opportunities to divert cash.
"The basic question in their mind is: how do we get our 10, 20 percent of this bedazzling amount of money," he said.
"It is a pretty ruthless group of people. Those who do business in Indonesia know how difficult it is."
Prior to the disaster Aceh, like many Indonesian provinces, was already stricken by corruption woes.
Aceh's governor Abdullah Puteh is currently on trial, accused in a helicopter purchase embezzlement scam worth 100,000 dollars -- a paltry sum compared with the 35 billion allegedly amassed by former dictator Suharto.