Indonesian health ministry spent $61,000 on concert

Indonesian health ministry spent $61,000 on concert
Former health minister Siti Fadilah Supari

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on Friday questioned actress Meidiana Hutomo as a witness in an ongoing investigation into a graft case implicating former health minister Siti Fadilah Supari, who was named a suspect in the case in April 2014.

The antigraft body has accused Siti, who served as health minister from 2004 to 2009, of having abused her power in relation to the Health Ministry's procurement of medical equipment worth Rp 15.5 billion (S$1.5 million) in 2005.

The KPK, however, has yet to detain the former minister, who has been charged under Articles 2 and 3 of Law No. 31/1999 on corruption, which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Speaking to reporters after the questioning, Meidiana said that she had at one point received a check worth Rp 600 million from the Health Ministry to fund a religious music concert she organised, but was unaware of the origins of the funds.

"We received the money in the form of a check. As such, we didn't know where it had come from," said Meidiana, a former presenter, at the KPK headquarters in South Jakarta on Friday.

She said that she had received the check from the ministry after submitting proposals to a number of institutions, including private entities, to sponsor the music event, which was organised by several artists, including comedian Sri "Cici Tegal" Wahyuningsih.

Before questioning Meidiana, who was a treasurer for the event, the KPK questioned Cici last week regarding the case, which the KPK claims caused Rp 6.1 billion in state losses.

Like Meidiana, Cici said that the organizers had received a Rp 600 million check from the Health Ministry as a donation to the concert. However, Cici said that she did not know about the exact source of the money.

"We sent proposals for the event to many people and received Rp 600 million," she said.

The questioning of Cici was carried out after the KPK took over the case from the National Police in March 2014 and named Siti a suspect. The anticorruption agency said that it needed to gather more testimony before bringing Siti in for questioning.

The KPK questioned Siti several times in 2012 in connection with a separate graft case relating to the procurement of medical equipment worth Rp 40 billion in 2007.

The case led to former director general for medical services Ratna Dewi Umar being sentenced to five years in prison by the Jakarta Corruption Court.

During her trial in 2013, Ratna said that Siti had instructed her to directly offer the procurement tender to a company led by businessman Bambang Rudijanto Tanoesodibjo.

The brother of media tycoon Hary Tanoesodibjo, however, has strongly denied the allegations.

Siti, meanwhile, has repeatedly denied allegations that she was involved in Ratna's case, saying that she knew nothing about the case and could not monitor "thousands of procurement projects" at her ministry.

In March last year, the KPK announced that it had taken over the investigation of the case from the National Police.

Before moving into politics, Siti was a cardiology specialist based in Jakarta.

She played a prominent role as health minister at a time when the country was battling avian influenza.

After serving in the Cabinet of then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Siti was appointed a member of the Presidential Advisory Board (Wantimpres) in 2010.

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