Outcry over political dynasty in Banten

Outcry over political dynasty in Banten

Jakarta - The recent arrest of a top judge for allegedly taking bribes from a brother of Banten governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah has inadvertently exposed the strong grip on power her family has in the province.

The saga has triggered a public outcry over the reach of political dynasties in Indonesia.

Ms Ratu Atut (in photo above), 51, has been governor of Banten since 2007. Her daughter, stepmother, stepbrother and sister-in-law are mayors or district chiefs in the province.

In the bribery case, her youngest brother Tubagus Chaeri Wardana, or Wawan, is accused of offering one billion rupiah (S$110,000) to top constitutional judge Akil Mochtar for a favourable ruling in an election dispute.

Ms Ratu Atut has also been questioned in connection with the case.

Ongoing investigations revealed how her family has been able to amass a fortune from connections and control over big development projects.

The family's assets include billions of rupiah worth of projects as well as luxury cars from Ferraris to Lamborghinis.

The disclosures have prompted calls for more in-depth investigations into the family and also for regulations to bar members of a family from running for political office in the same province.

Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi said 57 district leaders are members of political dynasties spread across Indonesia.

But it is the Banten case that has set tongues wagging for the amount of political and financial influence wielded by one family.

"The case harks back to the Suharto era when one family on a much higher political level wielded such influence... People are sick of such nepotism," political analyst Gandung Ismanto of Banten's University Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa told The Straits Times.

"In Banten, there had been murmurings for a long time that Ratu Atut's family exploits the system to grab assets," he added.

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