Indonesian regent relieved of duty 3 minutes after inauguration due to corruption charges

In what must be some sort of record for shortest reign by an Indonesian regent, Syahri Mulyo, who had been elected the leader of East Java’s Tulungagung Regency in June, was officially inaugurated at a ceremony in Jakarta yesterday only to officially be relieved of his duties a mere three minutes later due to his suspect status in an ongoing corruption investigation.

No, it’s not that Syahri just happened to be named a criminal suspect within minutes of his swearing in. In fact, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named him a suspect for graft related to a number of infrastructure projects 19 days before the country’s regional elections on June 27. But obviously that didn’t prevent Syahri from winning the vote (by a decisive 59.8% to 40.2% margin no less).

That win, however, didn’t prevent Syahri from being detained by the KPK. He is currently in holding at East Jakarta Police Headquarters pending his case’s trial.

So yesterday’s inauguration ceremony, which took place at the offices of the Interior Ministry in Jakarta, was essentially a procedural requirement so that Syahri’s vice regent, Maryoto Birowo, who was sworn in at the same time, could then legally be named Tulungagung’s acting regent in accordance with election law.

The KPK initially did not allow Syahri out of detention so that he could be inaugurated with other officials in East Java earlier this month, citing costs and security concerns, but they did allow him out briefly for yesterday’s special ceremony at the Home Ministry office.

East Java Governor Soekarwo officially inaugurated Syahri and Maryoto at 1:54pm. At 1:57pm, Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo gave Soekarwo a decree declaring that Syahri was now non-active due to his suspect status and that Maryoto would now be taking over as acting regent. Syahri was returned to his detention cell following the ceremony.

Syahri was named a suspect along with Blitar Mayor Muhammad Samanhudi Anwar for bribery related to a number of infrastructure projects in Tulungagung and Blitar. If proven guilty, his status as governor will be officially revoked.

Indonesia’s political system is notoriously corrupt and while the KPK has made significant progress with numerous major busts in recent years, political parties continue to support candidates with track records of corruption. Dozens of ex-graft convicts are set to run in Indonesia regional elections next April.

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