Overfishing Funds

THE sun had long since set by the time Rokhmin Dahuri, 48, emerged from the offices of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on Thursday last week. He had been inside for some 10 hours answering questions from investigators. Although worn out, the former Minister of Maritime Affairs & Fisheries (2001-2004) was unable to return to his home in Bogor straight away. A silver Toyota Kijang was awaiting him. This was a KPK vehicle for transporting detainees that was to deliver Rokhmin to face a new contest at the National Police Criminal Investigation Bureau detention center.

Although later admitting he was shocked, Rokhmin tried to put on a brave face and smiled to the scores of journalists who had been waiting for him in front of the building since early afternoon. “I don’t believe that I did wrong,” he said.

Rokhmin is the second minister from the period of the Megawati Sukarnoputri administration that has been indicted on charges of corruption. Prior to this, former Minister of Religious Affairs, Said Agil Husin Al Munawar, was caught out over the embezzlement of Religious Community Perpetuity Funds. Now Rokhmin, a model lecturer in 1995, has been indicted for the embezzlement of non-budgetary funds.

Non-budgetary funds are monies collected from activities not covered by the State Budget. During the New Order period of former President Suharto, funds such as these were abundant and freely used—including for example the State Logistics Agency non-budgetary funds that were allegedly exploited by Golkar Party leader Akbar Tandjung. Nowadays, those receiving such funds can be deemed to have acted corruptly.

This is what has befallen Rokhmin. According to KPK deputy head Tumpak Hatorangan Panggabean, the case began with the collection of tactical non-budgetary funds over the period April 18, 2002 to March 23, 2005. These monies were collected from a 1-percent cut taken out of the departmental budget and decentralization funds from some 30 provinces, plus other sources.

Amounting to Rp31.7 billion, it was deposited in two bank accounts: one account to store funds that originated from within the department—the 1-percent cuts—which had a balance of Rp12 billion; the second account to hold monies from outside of the department, the deposits from business people involved in the maritime sector.

Rokhmin’s lawyer, Herman Kadir has confirmed that such collections did exist but denies that it originated from a 1-percent cut taken from departmental funds. He asserts that the deposits originated from departmental offices in the regencies that were working on maritime projects. “The amount was only around 0.25 percent of the project’s total value,” said Herman.

Herman also says that evidence of these deposits was recorded in the accounts held at the Department of Maritime Affairs & Fisheries General Secretariat. Including receipts. From what he has seen, for example, there was a Rp85-million deposit from East Java, Jambi Rp20 million, and so forth.

All of the receipts, totaling in the hundreds, are now in the hands of the KPK. What is surprising however is that the majority of the deposits turn out to be from outside the Department of Maritime Affairs, or more precisely from businesspeople. Were they in order to obtain special treatment? “There is no link with providing special treatment to specific [individuals],” said Herman.

In relation to the issue of these deposits, on Wednesday last week the KPK questioned the boss of the Artha Graha Group, Tomy Winata, and the Director of PT Maritime Timur Jaya, David Tjioe. PT Maritime is one of the companies owned by Tomy that is active in the maritime sector with operations in Tual, Southeast Maluku. According to a source in the KPK, Tomy was questioned because one of the witnesses cited him as having deposited funds. “We summoned [them] to seek clarification,” said Tumpak.

The KPK questioned Tomy over two matters, the operations of his company in Tual and the deposits he made with the Department of Maritime Affairs. Speaking with Tempo during an interview last Friday, Rokhmin admitted that Tomy Winata was one of those that donated into the department’s non-budgetary bank account. As to the amount, however, Rokhmin was unable to say. “I don’t remember,” he said. Herman, who claims to have seen the receipts from the donors, has also refused to speak on the question of Tomy’s donation. “I have no comment on the matter,” he said.

Tomy, however, when speaking with journalists who met him following his questioning at the KPK, denied that there was any deposit. “There wasn’t any [flow of funds]. It’s because there wasn’t any, that of course no sum was mentioned,” said Tomy.

Collecting illegal funds is not the only accusation that has been leveled against Rokhmin. The professor from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) has also been accused of using the funds for personal gain. According to Tumpak, the KPK is still investigating the matter. “We are still investigating how much,” said Tumpak.

One of the private matters that Rokhmin, the child of a fisherman from Cirebon, reputedly “consumed” the funds for was his inauguration as a professor at the IPB’s Faculty of Fisheries and Maritime Science in January 2003. And the event was indeed a massive one. Prof. Dr. Ir. Rokhmin Dahuri MS invited former President Megawati and several cabinet ministers. It was reported to have cost Rp300 million or thereabouts—15 times the budget for other professors’ inaugurations.

Rokhmin rejects the accusation that he used the non-budgetary funds for personal gain. According to Rokhmin, all of the funds collected were used for the interests of the Department. “For fishermen for example, social interests, making laws.”

The non-budgetary collection of funds says Rokhmin, is customary in all departments and is voluntary. So, this is not a new practice. “While I was the director-general, and the minister was Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, practices such as this were already taking place,” he said.

But, when asked to confirm Rokhmin’s statement, Sarwono refuted it outright. “That’s nonsense,” said the Jakarta Regional House of Representatives member who is also the former Minister for the Environment. According to Sarwono, during the time he headed up the Maritime Affairs Department between 1999 and 2001, all of the Department’s funds came from the State Budget. “There were no non-budgetary funds, because indeed it was forbidden to use such funds. Non-budgetary funds were an innovation by Rokhmin,” said Sarwono. So if Rokhmin now finds himself being questioned over the issue says Sarwono, “that’s his affair, not mine.”

Is it true then, that this was indeed an individual initiative by Rokhmin and is it because of this that his lawyer, Herman, is so upset? Herman has accused the KPK of being selective because it has failed to question Freddy Numberi, the current Minister of Maritime Affairs & Fisheries. Whereas based on information he has, the collection of funds continued to take place until March 2006.

Numberi, who headed up the department until October 2004, has an answer. “When I became the minister, I said it was not allowed [to continue the collections] because it breached the rules,” said Numberi. Nevertheless, he admits that the funds were still being used after their collection had been stopped.

According to Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Ganjar Pranowo, the case smacks of politics and selectivity. He goes on to cite three corruption cases that have something in common: the case of the former Minister of Religious Affairs, Said Agil, the former head of the Investment Coordinating Board, Theo F. Toemion and now Rokhmin’s case. The similarity is, “They’re all Megawati’s people.” And Rokhmin’s closeness to Megawati has indeed long been common knowledge.

Ganjar suspects that the corruption cases launched against people close to PDI-P are merely designed as a threat. “Perhaps because we have been offered ministerial seats on three occasions, but chose to stay in opposition,” said the former member of the House of Representatives Maritime Affairs Commission.

He also points to the strong nuances of selectivity after noting that all of those indicted are people from the era of the Megawati administration. “Why have only Mega’s cabinet ministers been targeted, while those during the era of [Presidents] Habibie and Abdurrahman Wahid have not?” he asks. Also, the practice of collecting non-budgetary funds may well have occurred in other departments said Ganjar.

Tumpak dismisses the accusations of selectivity saying that these people were questioned based upon the existing evidence. Even before they started questioning Rokhmin over the case in August, the KPK had detained the former Secretary-General of the Department of Maritime Affairs & Fisheries, Andi H. Taryoto. It was only after this that they took steps against Rokhmin. “We investigated because there were suspicions of criminal acts of corruption in accordance with the evidence that we obtained,” said the former public prosecutor.

Abdul Manan, Maria Hasugian, Tito Sianipar, Sutarto, Eworaswa

Majalah Tempo, No. 14/VII/Dec 05 – 12, 2006

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