Democratic Party Deputy Secretary Genral Andi Arief has been propelled into the political spotlight ever since he accused former Jakarta Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno of paying IDR1 trillion (US$35 million) in “political dowry” to secure his position as Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto’s running mate in next April’s election. The explosive accusation was said to have caused friction within the opposition coalition of parties, and now Andi is saying that he might have actually put himself in harm’s way by making it.
“The issue I heard is that last night a regional executive board of a political party in Jakarta ordered a certain ethnic group to intimidate me, so of course I’m worried,” Andi said, as quoted by Detik today.
“I have always been afraid of physical threats so it’s best that I avoid this.”
Andi added that he may have to ask for police protection due to the threats against him.
The Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), which has said that it is investigating the political dowry claims, has summoned Andi for questioning three times but the Democratic politician has failed to show up thus far, with his latest excuse being that he is looking after his sick parents.
Bawaslu has yet to summon Sandiaga for questioning, but indicated that they will do so in the near future.
If Bawaslu was to find proof that Sandiaga had paid to be made Prabowo’s running mate, then he and all of the parties involved would be subject to Article 228 of the 2017 Election Law, which explicitly makes “dowry” payments to influence a political party’s choice of presidential candidate illegal. The penalties for violating the law include the revocation of the candidates’ registrations and a prohibition on the political parties involved from nominating another candidate in the next election.
The two reports already filed with Bawaslu over Andi’s accusation came from two civil society groups: The United Indonesia Federation and the Jokowi-Ma’ruf President Centre Nusantara Volunteer House. Media reports mentioned that they included Andi’s tweets, where he made the original accusation, as evidence in their reports but there is no word on whether they had any more concrete evidence to back the accusation.
Andi was at first adamant that his accusation was not a lie and that he had data to back it up. However, after the Democrats decided to join Prabowo’s coalition after all, Andi backed down from his claims and even claimed that he had been ordered to make the accusation by his party. However, he said he would stand by the accusation and face whatever legal consequences are coming for him.
Meanwhile, Gerindra, PAN and PKS have all fiercely denied the accusation although they stopped their threats to report Andi to the police for defamation after the Democrats joined the opposition.
Sandiaga Uno also firmly rejected the accusation, saying it was ‘very untrue’ and that he was being totally transparent with his finances to relevant agencies including reporting his assets to the Corruption Eradication Commission. He did, however, admit that he was willing to contribute funds to the campaign in the future, which is legal.
The practice of cadres having to pay their parties enormous “dowries” in order to receive nominations and cover the costs of their campaign is extremely pervasive in the world of Indonesian politics. On top of their basic corruption of the democratic process, in many cases candidates end up of having to finance the dowries by making crooked money-making deals once they’re in office.