Jayapura – The formation of new autonomous regions (DOB) in Papua is still leaving problems in its wake, the latest being the issue of bribes allegedly paid by Merauke Regent Romanus Mbaraka to House of Representatives (DPR) lawmakers to change an article in the revised Special Autonomy (Otsus) Law on Papua so that regional expansion falls under the control of the central government.
The alleged bribes in the formation of the DOBs has even been reported to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) by the Papua Civil Society and Anti-Corruption Forum.
In response to this, the KPK says that it is ready to investigate the issue after the report has been verified. On Wednesday July 20, acting KPK spokesperson Ali Fikri confirmed that they had received the report from the Anti-Corruption Forum.
"I've already checked, the information which we've received, it is indeed true that a report came in. But in relation to the reporter and the material in the report we cannot comment", he said.
Fikri said that that the KPK public complaints team will conduct a verification and study the report. "A verification and study will be done to confirm whether or not it is falls into the realm of a corruption crime and the KPK has the authority to decide if it is or isn't", said Fikri.
The Papua Civil Society and Anti-Corruption Forum submitted the report of alleged corruption with the KPK on Tuesday July 19. The report was accompanied by supporting documents in the form of three documents containing the text of a speech by Regent Mbaraka and a CD containing a video of the speech.
The report was submitted after a video went viral on social media in which Mbaraka admits to bribing several DPR lawmakers in order to change one of the articles in the revised Papua Special Autonomy Law. The article referred to returns the authority to create DOBs in Papua to the central government.
According to the Anti-Corruption Forum, the admission that he paid bribes exposes the dirty games played by the government and politicians with regard to Papua.
"The revisions to the Otsus Law and the enactment of [the revised] Otsus [Law] were the climax of dirty practices which were then openly admitted to the public by the Merauke regent", the group explained.
The Forum also asserted that Mbaraka's alleged bribery of DPR lawmakers is related to amendments to the Otsus Law in order to establish five new autonomous regions without involving or discussing it with the Papuan people.
The Papuan people themselves meanwhile do not agree with the revisions and the imposition of the Papua Otsus Law because it is seen as being rushed and suspected to be in the interests of the political elite.
The formation of DOBs in Papua, as a result of the revisions to the Otsus Law which smack of bribes, according to the Forum, was only in the interests of the political elite in Papua and Jakarta.
This suspicion is reinforced by the fact that there was never any involvement of the Papua People's Council (MPR) or the Papua Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) in the process of revising the Otsus Law.
"The substance of which also greatly harmed the rights of indigenous Papuans. In the end the institutions which are born out of the Otsus Papua will not be functional", said the group.
The Forum is asking that the alleged bribes or gratification be followed up immediately and that there must be a deterrent effect for the perpetrators.
Several days after the video of Mbaraka's speech went viral, the Merauke regent clarified that the reports on the bribes are untrue.
"Truthfully and absolutely I say that there were no bribes [paid to the] DPR. If anyone writing in the mass media says there were bribes, I deny it all, it is absolutely untrue. And it can be proven. It is absolutely untrue", said Mbaraka in a press release on Tuesday.
A number of parties have highlighted the viral video of Mbaraka's speech in which he speaks in a clear voice before members of the public following a parade to celebrate the successful formation of South Papua province. The video carries the perception that there were bribes paid although Mbaraka does not mention how much.
"In 2020, Bapak [Mr] Yan Mandenas, a member of the Indonesian DPR, contacted me. Kaka [brother] Rom[anus], it's time for you to go all out. [You] must fight with all your might, so the new provinces can happen. [So] today, in the name of God Jesus, for the sake of this ancestral land, I want to tell you all that I had a mission, how I would achieve this goal. I promised Kaka Jhon [former Merauke regent John Gluba Gebze], I will make the new provinces happen. After that I went to see Pak [Mr] Yan Mandenas, I went to Pak Komarudin [Watubun, the head of the DPR's special committee for amending the Otsus Law], I approached everyone who was at the DPR. The payments were very expensive. Later if I mention it, the KPK could arrest me", reads the quote from Mbaraka's speech in the video recording.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "KPK Verifikasi Laporan Dugaan Suap Terkait DOB Papua".]