JAKARTA • Indonesia’s Social Affairs Minister Idrus Marham resigned yesterday after becoming the first member of President Joko Widodo’s Cabinet to be named a suspect in a graft investigation.
Mr Idrus, 55, who is also a top Golkar Party politician, has been implicated in an embezzlement case related to the development of a coal-powered plant in Riau province, The Jakarta Post reported.
Mr Idrus delivered his resignation letter to the President yesterday, citing his ethical and moral obligation to step down.
He acknowledged that on Thursday, he had received an investigation notice issued by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
“First, (my resignation) is to protect the dignity of the President, who is known for being a leader with a high commitment to eradicating corruption in Indonesia,” Mr Idrus told the media at the presidential palace complex, according to The Jakarta Post.
“As a law-abiding citizen, I fully respect the legal process at the KPK and I want to concentrate on complying with legal procedures at the KPK in accordance with the law,” he added.
Mr Idrus went on to say that he had told Mr Joko during the meeting to immediately find a better person to replace him so that programmes at the ministry, including those related to poverty alleviation, can continue, The Jakarta Post reported.
The KPK previously named two suspects in the embezzlement case, Golkar lawmaker Eni Saragih and businessman Johannes Budisutrisno Kotjo, for alleged bribery totalling at least 4.8 billion rupiah (S$450,000) in relation to contract signing for the construction of the Riau-1 power plant, The Jakarta Post reported.
Mr Idrus allegedly received a sum of money as a “commitment fee” for the project, according to Kompas newspaper.
He was called up at least three times by the KPK for investigations, including being questioned for 12 hours on July 19, Kompas added.
Mr Joko named Mr Idrus the social affairs minister in January, replacing Ms Khofifah Indar Parawansa, who had resigned.
Mr Idrus’ appointment was seen as a move by Mr Joko to lock in support from Golkar for the President’s bid for re-election next year, analysts told The Straits Times in January.
Mr Idrus used to work as a teacher in his home town in Pinrang, South Sulawesi.
By the age of 21, the active youth leader was lecturing at the prestigious Attahiriyah Islamic University in Jakarta.
His knowledge of religious studies and solid organisational skills caught the eye of Golkar leaders, who drafted the young academic into its ranks in 1997, said The Straits Times in its report in January.