May 30, 2024 Last Updated 8:34 AM, May 27, 2024

Blood money

Links between corruption and violence in Poso

Dave McRae

On 28 May 2005, two bombs exploded in Tentena market, Poso district, killing 22 people and wounding more than twice as many. The bombs instantly attracted national and international attention, as they killed more people than any explosion in Indonesia since the October 2002 Bali bombing.

After a series of riots in December 1998, April 2000 and May 2000, Poso became a site of protracted communal conflict. Local political and business interests were implicated in the first riots, but over time it became a conflict between Christians and Muslims. The situation has improved markedly since the worst of the fighting, but sporadic shootings and bombings still occur.

One of the first men that police arrested for the Tentena blast was Abdul Kadir Sidik, a local civil servant who was on trial for corruption of assistance funds provided for people displaced by the Poso conflict (IDPs or internally displaced persons). Sidik was a provincial civil servant seconded to the district-level Social Office team set up to disburse the funds. It is highly unlikely that Sidik was involved in the bombing, and police have not since charged him. There is a growing perception, however, that those responsible for some of the more recent violence in Poso are doing it for profit.

This link between corruption and violence in Poso has been evident in several other recent incidents there, including the beheading of a village chief in November 2004 and two smaller bombs outside NGO offices in April 2005.

Corruption of IDP funds

Sidik was originally arrested in late 2004. His arrest came during an investigation into the misuse of a significant portion of Rp 2.2 billion (A$ 300,000) of IDP assistance funds disbursed to thirteen villages from August to September 2004.

The Social Office distribution team proved an effective mechanism to embezzle funds, particularly because the money was not paid directly to the recipient families. The team instead made a cash payment to the village heads of the thirteen villages to which assistance had been allotted. The village head was then responsible for paying the money to the families.

The payments took place outside the villages so villagers did not witness how much money the village head had received. This provided the opportunity for the Social Office team to intimidate the village heads into initially accepting less than what their village was entitled to or later returning a portion of the funds to the team.

Most of the legwork involved in intimidating the village heads was done by the two members of the Social Office team who were not civil servants – Andi Makassau and Ahmad Laparigi.

The Poso city suburb of Sayo provides a good example of how this process worked. Sayo was allocated Rp 877.5 million, almost half of all funding. According to police interrogation dossiers, Laparigi picked up the Sayo village head, Jacob Albert Lumansik, at Poso’s central market and drove him to the distribution point in Moengko.

Although Lumansik signed for the whole Rp 877.5 million at the hotel, he was given only Rp 500 million. In addition, according to Lumansik, Makassau and Laparigi took all but Rp 100 million back off him when they dropped him at the market afterwards. The money Makassau and Laparigi brought back was then allegedly divided up between the team, policemen guarding the disbursement and other civil servants. Of the Rp 100 million that Lumansik received, he may have distributed as little as Rp 5 million to the intended recipients. This represents less than one per cent of the funds allotted to Sayo.

Beheading of Ndele

Unlike suspicions of corruption in earlier rounds of disbursement, the August-September 2004 round involving Sayo has been thoroughly investigated. The breakthrough appears to have come in early November when police arrested Laparigi and Makassau under the anti-terror law (which is now applied to most violence in Poso and Maluku) four days after one of the village heads who had received the funds was murdered.

The doomed man was Carminelis Ndele, head of Pinedapa village. His murder was particularly sadistic: his head was dumped in Sayo, while the remainder of his corpse was found near his house around 20 kilometres away. Unlike most other village heads, Ndele had received his funds directly at the Social Office on 11 August, not through the distribution team. Many observers believe that Ndele was killed because he had refused to hand back his share of the IDP funds.

Another village head who received his money at the Social Office, Djahrun Galoro from Masamba village, told police that Ahmad Laparigi visited him the night after he had received the funds and asked that he return Rp 12.5 million, equivalent to five families’ allotment, which he handed over.

A Poso police report dated 8 November states that Ahmad Laparigi and Andi Makassau unsuccessfully tried to elicit a portion of the funds from Ndele on two occasions in August. Witnesses stated that a man resembling Laparigi picked up Ndele at his house in Pinedapa on the evening of his murder.

In the end, police did not have sufficient evidence to implicate Laparigi in the murder, nor to charge Makassau with a shooting outside a church in Poso in October 2004. Both, however, were successfully charged with corruption, and the investigation stemming from their arrests also resulted in four other arrests, including that of Sidik.

When the Tentena bomb exploded in May 2005, Sidik should still have been behind bars because his trial was ongoing. Police instead found him on the road back to Poso from the coastal town of Ampana and subsequently announced they had discovered traces of TNT matching the bomb material in Sidik’s car. This reinforced belief among some anti-corruption activists that a link between corruptors and the Tentena bomb would emerge.

High-level involvement

There was a further part of the rationale for believing that corruption had something to do with the Tentena bomb. Laparigi and Anwar Ali (then the head of the Poso Social Office) had implicated a number of much more senior district and provincial level officials during their questioning. Ali had claimed that he had given Rp 605 million of IDP funds to Joko, the National Intelligence Body’s (BIN) representative in Central Sulawesi, and Raden Badri, former head of the Poso District Prosecutor’s office.

Laparigi claimed that, prior to the commencement of the disbursement process, Sidik had told him he expected that around Rp 1 billion (of the Rp 2.2 billion) would be embezzled. Laparigi also stated that he saw a list of names at Ali’s house of those who would be paid amounts between Rp 30 million and Rp 100 million. This list included the head of the Poso District Prosecutor’s office, the chief and deputy chief of police in Poso, the Poso district head, the head of the Detective Unit of Poso Police, the Poso district secretary and Laparigi.

No further evidence has been made public to implicate any of the other men, although both the Poso police chief and the district head were questioned. The Poso police chief and the BIN representative have since been rotated to other posts.

Anti-corruption activists continued to campaign, in particular for the investigation to be intensified into Andi Asikin Suyuti, the caretaker district head who was also head of the Central Sulawesi Provincial Social Office, through which much larger amounts of IDP assistance were channelled.

This made some of the activists the target of intimidation, most notably when two bombs exploded on 28 April 2005 outside the offices of LPMS (Institute for the Strengthening of Civil Society) and PRKP (Centre for Conflict Resolution and Peace in Poso). The bombs caused only minor damage to the buildings. A local contractor, Mad Haji Sun, was arrested in September in connection with the bombings. Mad has close ties to both local officials and jihadist groups.

The possible involvement of senior officials in corruption, and the much smaller-scale, targeted bombing at the NGO offices, provided the rationale for a theory that the Tentena bombing may have been intended to divert all resources away from a further corruption investigation. Under this rationale, its perpetrators might also have hoped that the then Provincial Police Chief Brigadier General Aryanto Sutadi, who had provided impetus to the corruption investigation, would be removed.

There was a precedent of sorts for the latter: Deddy Woerjantono, then police chief of Poso, was removed in the midst of another corruption investigation after the April 2000 riot in which six people were killed. This idea of the bomb diverting attention from corruption initially had some powerful backers, including members of a national legislature working group on Poso, but ultimately appears to have proved false.

Containing corruption

There is little doubt that corruptors working by themselves or together with veterans of the fighting in Poso have been behind some of the violence there over the past year. But the two clearest cases of corruption and violence coming together were targeted: the murder of a village head who had not given money to the corruptors, and the bombing of the offices of activists who were calling for wider investigations.

The motives for the Tentena bomb more likely lie elsewhere. Primary suspicion must fall on the jihadist networks that entered Poso after the May-June 2000 riot there, in which at least 246 people, mostly Muslims, were killed. The bombs in Tentena in fact exploded on the fifth anniversary of the Walisongo massacre, the single worst incident in 2000 in Poso, in which an unknown number of Muslims – around 100 – were killed in and around an Islamic boarding school.

However, determining whether any of these networks were in fact responsible is complicated by the failure of many previous investigations into violence in Poso. This includes investigation into the last fatal incident before the Tentena bomb: a bomb placed in a public transport van at Poso’s central market in November 2004 which killed six of the van’s Christian passengers. As with the Tentena bomb, there are no suspects in custody for this explosion either.

Although corruption appears not to have played a role in the Tentena bomb, there are strong indications that corruption is linked to many other acts of violence in Poso. These events show the importance of successful investigations and appropriate sentencing of those convicted of corruption.

Another important step is to solve cases like the Tentena bomb, the beheading of the village chief and the bomb in Poso’s central market. By regularly solving such cases, there will be increased risks for those who seek to use violence to support their personal agenda. This will not provide a comprehensive solution to the problems that several years of communal violence in Poso have created, but it is important to head off any alliance between corruptors and violent men.

Dave McRae ( is working in Jakarta while completing his PhD dissertation on the Poso conflict.

Inside Indonesia 85: Jan-Mar 2006{jcomments on}


Latest Articles

Labouring in vain?

May 03, 2024 - HASNA A. FADHILAH

The Labour Party (Partai Buruh) was revived in the wake of opposition to the Omnibus Law on Job Creation, but failure in the 2024 election shows they failed to connect...

Book review: Uncovering Suharto's Cold War


Film review: Inheriting collective memories through 'Eksil'


A documentary embraced by TikTokers is changing how young people understand Indonesia’s past

Indonesians call for climate action through music


Self-education and lived experience of the impacts of climate change, are driving a grassroots environmental movement

Book review: Clive of Indonesia

Apr 05, 2024 - DUNCAN GRAHAM

Subscribe to Inside Indonesia

Receive Inside Indonesia's latest articles and quarterly editions in your inbox.

Bacaan Bumi: Pemikiran Ekologis – sebuah suplemen Inside Indonesia

Lontar Modern Indonesia



A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar.