Thursday, December 5, 2013
Indonesian President SBY the shadowy ‘Queen Lobbyist” Bunda Putri
The speculation surrounding a woman called “Bu Pur” has proven too difficult for the State Palace to ignore. The Palace will send a lawyer to the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court to clarify any statements regarding President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s alleged connection to both Bu Pur and a second woman who has made the president squirm: the shadowy “Queen Lobbyist” Bunda Putri.
Bu Pur — legal name Sylvia Solehah — was identified by graft convict Mindo Rosalina Manurung as a close associate of Yudhoyono who had her prints on the construction of the Hambalang sports center in Bogor, West Java. The corruption case has already implicated several ranking members of Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party — including former party chair Anas Urbaningrum and disgraced Youth and Sports Minister Andi Alfian Mallarangeng — and tainted the party’s image.
Now, as Rosalina began to drop clues about Bu Pur’s involvement in the scandal, the president is seeking to distance himself from the mysterious woman. Rosalina testified before the court that Bu Pur was the chief butler at Yudhoyono’s private residence in Cikeas. The woman reportedly had deep ties in the first family, wielding enough power to make even notorious graft convict Muhammad Nazaruddin take note, Rosalina testified.
“Nazar [Nazaruddin] told me to tell Wafid [Muharram, former secretary to the Youth and Sports Minister] that if we don’t get the physical construction, we should get the equipment,” Rosalina said. “But Wafid told me that Pur had already claimed the project.”
Rosalina told the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court during the trial of former ministry official Deddy Kusdinar that Bu Pur and several members of Yudhoyono’s inner circle helped the Ministry of Youth and Sports gain the approval needed to extend the duration of the Hambalang project.
The Palace was quick to dispel the rumors. Yudhoyono, in all his years as president, has never had a chief butler at his private residence, said Nanang Djuana Priyadi, head of the president’s secretariat. Bu Pur, was a friend of First Lady Ani Yudhoyono, but she never worked for the family, he added.
“Throughout SBY’s leadership there have only been five presidential butlers [at the Palace],” Nanang said. “None of them was called Pur.”
But that doesn’t mean Bu Pur wasn’t close to the first family. Bu Pur is the wife of Purnomo D. Rahardjo, a retired senior official with the National Police who attended the national Military Academy with Yudhoyono, graduating alongside the president in 1973, according to a Q&A with Purnomo published by the Indonesian investigative news magazine Tempo.
Bu Pur means Mrs. Pur, presumably referring to Purnomo’s nickname. How Purnomo or his wife were named as a chief butler at the president’s personal residence was a mystery, he said.
“I was never a head of butler in the President’s residence in Cikeas or at the Palace,” Purnomo told Tempo.
Yudhoyono, for his part, remained disturbed by the allegations. The president is concerned that his reputation will be tarnished if his name is pulled into the Hambalang sports center case, his spokesman said.
“Until now, we were not sure where the information came from,” Julian said. ”We also would like to know the origin of these reports.”
It’s the second time Yudhoyono was named as a close associate of a powerful, but mysterious figure. Allegations that he knew Bunda Putri — real name Non Saputri — prompted a rare public denial from the president.
Bunda Putri, the wife of a prominent official with the Ministry of Agriculture, reportedly had her fingers in a Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) plan to corrupt the nation’s beef import quotas.
A panicking PKS responded by issuing a statement warning the public of the dangers of “casual” discussions of Bunda Putri’s identity and relationship with prominent members of Yudhoyono’s coalition. But it was already too late. Bunda Putri was reportedly instrumental in the Islamist party’s efforts to rig the beef import quotas.
Yudhoyono quickly attempted to distance himself from Bunda Putri in an arithmetically unsound statement.
“One-thousand percent Luthfi [Hasan Ishaaq] has lied,” Yudhoyono told reporters on Oct. 11. “And it’s a 2,000 percent lie [that Bunda Putri influenced cabinet decisions].”
Bunda Putri responded with some dubious math of her own, sending a message to reporters that she was 3,000 percent sure she knows Yudhoyono.
“She was disheartened with the president’s statement that it’s a 1,000 percent or 2,000 percent lie that he knows her. She said it is 3,000 percent true that the president knows her,” a source told Sindo Weekly.