Indonesian Minister of Religious Affairs Suryadharma Ali resigned from his ministerial post today (26/05) after having been named a suspect in a corruption case by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) last week. Ali is accused of mishandling the country’s hajj pilgrimage fund. This fund is centrally managed by the government and contains deposits paid by people who want to make the holy journey to Mecca (Saudi Arabia). Ali resigned in order to concentrate fully on his defense in the graft case.
Suryadharma Ali, who denies all allegations that have been made against him, is also Chairman of the Islamic political party PPP that supports the Prabowo-Rajasa pair in the presidential election that is scheduled for 9 July 2014. Ali has been given a travel ban for six months by the immigration office.
Late last week, the KPK revealed that it had detected fraud in the budgets for the provision of catering, lodging and transportation for the pilgrimage of Indonesian Muslims. Indonesia contains the largest Muslim population in the world.
Political corruption is a structural problem in Southeast Asia’s largest economy and seriously undermines people’s trust in politicians and political parties. In late 2012, Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng was forced to resign after being named a suspect in a corruption case involving the construction of a new sports complex (Hambalang sports complex) in Bogor (West Java). However, on a lower political level, corruption cases fill the pages of Indonesian newspapers on a daily basis. Some notable recent examples include Rudi Rubiandini (former Head of Indonesia's oil & gas regulator SKK Migas), Anas Urbaningrum (former Chairman of the ruling PD party), Muhammad Nazaruddin (former Treasurer of the PD party), and Ratu Atut Chosiyah (Governor of Banten). Currently, Indonesian media are also still focused on the TransJakarta bus procurement graft case. This case involves the purchase of overpriced (Chinese) public buses for public transportation in Jakarta.