KPK worried almost half of regional election candidates are businesspeople

Source – December 4, 2020
KPK officials conducting raid on Bandung municipal government office – Undated (Tribun Jabar)

Ardito Ramadhan, Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has revealed that around 45 percent or 665 candidates running in the December 7 election of regional heads are businesspeople or have a background in the private sector.

This total is in addition to incumbent regional heads running in the election that also have business backgrounds.

KPK deputy for corruption prevention, Pahala Nainggolan, admitted that they are concerned about the many candidates with business backgrounds.

"What worries us is actually their backgrounds as professionals, businesspeople, from the private sector, it's almost half of new candidates. Yet those who are incumbents, who came in five years ago, they were also businesspeople, only now their status has changed to incumbent", said Nainggolan during a press conference on Friday December 4.

There are two things which are worrying the KPK. First, concern that these candidates will commit dishonest acts that benefit their private companies if they are elected later.

Basically, said Nainggolan, there are no regulations yet which state that businesspeople must relinquish their businesses interests if they get elected as regional heads.

"So imagine if I'm a contractor, I get in, get elected like that (as a regional head). In several regions their wives are still running [their businesses] because there's no prohibition against it", said Nainggolan.

According to Nainggolan, this has the potential to result in the procurement of goods and services in the regions becoming unfair because other companies are reluctant to take part in bidding for contracts.

"In the case of bidding in the regencies, usually yeah, people are rather reluctant, because (competing companies) are owned by regional heads", said Nainggolan.

The second reason, continued Nainggolan, is that regional heads with business or private sector backgrounds do not really understand the bureaucracy.

As a consequence, the wheels of government slow down and it even results in regional heads being caught up corruption because of their lack of understanding of the prevailing road signs.

"If the difference is just slowing things down then it doesn't matter, but if the difference is getting caught up [in corruption] because they say, 'I thought it wasn't a problem or what's the wrong with it, I didn't actually take any money', and it becomes an extension of their business" said Nainggolan.

Based on the results of a KPK analysis of the State Official Wealth Reports (LHKPN) submitted by candidate regional heads, the wealth of candidate regional heads who are business people or in the private sector is quite high.

Nainggolan said that on average the wealth of regional heads with a business or private sector backgrounds stands at around 13.3 billion rupiah, more than those with a background in the bureaucracy (8.7 billion rupiah) or the legislator (8.1 billion rupiah).

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "KPK Khawatir, Hampir Separuh Calon Kepala Daerah Berlatar Belakang Pengusaha".]