On Sunday 25 April 2004 at 7:20am, I was relaxing at home with my family. It was two weeks after the national elections, which I helped to organise. My staff were still supervising the counting of votes. A black Timor sedan pulled up outside my house. A man got out and introduced himself.
‘I am Aang Saepudin [KH AM Saefudin Atma], head of the Muslim boarding school at Maleber. I am a candidate for the Functional Party for National Concern (PKPB) in the national elections,’ he told me. I invited him in. He said that, as the head of the Cianjur district Election Commission (KPU), I could get him a seat in the national parliament.
I couldn’t believe my ears
He continued: ‘How you do it is up to you.’ Then, as he showed me some figures on a piece of paper, he said that if I could arrange things, he would pay me. ‘Pak Yudi,’ he said, ‘I’ll give you Rp 2.7 billion (A$ 402,000).’
He said he was going to give me the money in stages. ‘I’ll give you Rp 250 million (A$ 37,000) as a down payment. The rest I’ll give you in two parts. The first after the announcement of the results by the KPU, and the second after I am sworn in as a member of parliament.’
I couldn’t believe my ears! ‘This will land you in jail, Pak Kyai,’ I told him.
I used the term kyai (religious leader) on purpose, to embarrass him. Maybe he saw that I was annoyed. He excused himself, saying rather lamely, ‘please help me.’
A little later, I got an SMS message in Sundanese. It was Kyai Saepudin, urging me to accept his offer. Later at about 4pm, Pak Kyai phoned, and asked if I would see him again. Reluctantly I told him to come to my office the next day. ‘Come at 9am,’ I said, ‘because there will be a demonstration at 11am, and we are all leaving before then.’
He left, and I contacted my staff. I told them about the offer of money from Kyai Saepudin, and that I would report them to the police if they accepted any bribes.
At 7:20am the next morning Kyai Saepudin walked into my office carrying a black case. His bodyguards waited outside. He was startled by the number of staff there, but soon regained his composure. He told me about Mbak Tutut and her father, former President Suharto. ‘I give the Suharto family spiritual advice,’ he said proudly.
No sign of fear or embarrassment
I asked what he wanted. Without any sign of fear or embarrassment, he explained that he wanted the KPU to upgrade the vote count for the PKPB party, so he would get a seat in the national parliament. Then he opened his black bag, revealing stacks of money. I subtly snapped a few photos with my mobile phone camera. ‘Take this money as a payment for the first stage. There’s Rp 250 million as proof that I am serious about this.’
I rejected the bribe offer, of course, as did all of my colleagues. I told him again that he was breaking the law and would end up in jail. He kept asking me to take the money. ‘If you want it all now, take it,’ he pleaded, ‘the cash is in the van.’
By this stage we were getting fed up. I asked him to leave with the money. I said the demonstrations would begin soon. He said, ‘There won’t be any demonstrations if you take the money. I guarantee that I can stop them.’
We decided to report the affair to the police. There has almost never been a case where election bribery has resulted in a jail sentence. If a case goes to court, it is thrown out because of lack of evidence.
My case against Aang Saepudin will be heard in the Cianjur district court. I hope my photos will be enough evidence to send Aang Saepudin to jail. Jail is the place for rotten politicians.
Yudi Junadi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the head of the Electoral Commission for Cianjur District, West Java. The allegations in this article have been widely publicised in the Indonesian press.