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Wednesday, Oct 8, 2014

Asia

Indonesian lawmakers to probe alleged graft under President-elect Joko Widodo's watch

Reuters | Wednesday, Oct 8, 2014

JAKARTA  - Indonesian opposition lawmakers plan to investigate alleged wrongdoing when President-elect Joko Widodo was governor of the capital, Jakarta, and mayor of the city of Solo, a senior opposition member said.

Mr Joko narrowly won a July election with promises to voters jaded by generations of graft that he would bring effective and clean government.

But he lacks the support of a majority of members of Parliament and is expected to face objections to his reform programme from opposition members grouped in a coalition led by losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto. "We will use our power to investigate and to obstruct," Mr Prabowo's tycoon brother and top aide Hashim Djojohadikusumo told Reuters late on Tuesday at his office in Jakarta.

The investigations would include looking into alleged corruption involving the purchase of 1.5 trillion rupiah (S$150 million) worth of Chinese-made buses by the Jakarta government this year, while Mr Joko was governor, Djojohadikusumo said.

The case is already being investigated by the Attorney-General's Office. The media has reported that at least two government officials were suspected of wrongdoing.

Parliament will also investigate irregularities in the education budget of the city of Solo while Mr Joko was mayor.

Mr Joko, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing in the two cases, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Opposition members of parliament won the top parliamentary jobs this month, including the post of speaker, which will allow them to control the legislative agenda.

Concerns that South-east Asia's largest economy could face political gridlock for the next five years have pressured the rupiah and the stock market.

Mr Joko, who in July beat Mr Prabowo in the closest Indonesian presidential election ever, takes office on Oct 20.

Political experts said Mr Prabowo's loose "Red and White coalition" of members of various opposition parties, was intent on making life difficult for Mr Joko.

"The fact is that in the past two weeks Prabowo's coalition has managed to manoeuvre in many different ways, showing how they can throw some jabs against (Mr Joko)," said Mr Tobias Basuki, a political analyst at the CSIS think-tank.

"These parliamentary investigations are more of a political move than a genuine inquiry of corruption."

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