Election Casualties in Indonesia and Elsewhere

Partyforumseasia: Gratitude is not the most outstanding quality of voters. From Themistocles, the Athenian general Themistocleswho led the city-state against the Persian invasions and was later exiled by ostracism for perceived arrogance in 471 BC, to Winston Churchill who was voted out after the allied victory in 1945, many top politicians have been ousted by their electorate. Sometimes they were just around for too long and the voters were simply bored by their faces.
The tradition in Southeast Asia used to be more respectful of outstanding political leaders. Mahathir in Malaysia is still influential, Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore is still around but behind the scene, survivor Hun Sen in Cambodia fends of all attempts to topple him, and in Indonesia it took three decades to end the authoritarian rule of Suharto. But there are signs that awe and respect seem to soften or fade:
The April 2014 election in Indonesia saw quite a number of prominent and incumbent casualties, among them the law minister and the sports minister, both from the shrinking Democratic Party. The chairman of the Consultative Assembly (PDI-P) as well as the House Speaker (DP) and his deputy (Golkar) were also voted out. Practically half of the incumbent MP’s  are out, and among the “new blood” winners taking over as members of parliament now are colorful figures from sports and the arts scene like former movie star Dede Yusuf (DP) and racing car driver Moreno Suprapto (Gerindra). Whether they are the best candidates for real change, e.g. against corruption, is an open question, but media attention in the complex Indonesian environment is the most valuable asset.

Enrile & co.Another but related development in the Philippines is the indictment of until now “untouchables” on the political stage like political fossil Juan Ponce Enrile (90), former president Estrada’s son Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, and senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla for graft and corruption. The latter is accused of diverting 224 m Pesos (approx. 5 m US$) through bogus NGO’s into huge kickbacks. Senator Revilla has been detained yesterday, 20 June, Estrada and Enrile may follow soon. President Aquino’s government is delivering on election promises to end corruption, the Philippines moved 11 levels up to 94th among 177 countries in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, but, unfortunately, some of his close allies are also under investigation…


Philippines: End of Pork Barrel Politics? Party Financing Endangered…

Partyforumseasia: Scandals can speed up necessary reforms. At a time when the strongest ever tropical storm hit the Philippines, one of the ugliest political corruption scandals has started to change the political porklandscape in Manila. Triggered by a whistle-blower, businesswoman and alleged “Pork Queen” Janet Lim Napoles has been exposed as central facilitator for abusing development funds for kickbacks to congressmen and senators. This method of funding politicians and political parties, partially via fake NGOs, was widely known, but never exposed like now. And the alleged dimensions are certainly outrageous in a country with the remaining poverty level of the Philippines. One of the prominent accused is veteran politician Juan Ponce Enrile (89), who only some months ago had to resign as president of the senate because of abusing senate funds. The alleged kickbacks for the multimillionaire are supposed to be 363 million Pesos (more than 8 million US$!!), half of his pork allocation. Other colleagues are liable for similar sums, that means that development funds earmarked for infrastructure projects in the respective constituencies have been used for campaign and party funding, maybe for private purposes as well.
In the face of massive demonstrations during the last few months, also against President Aquino, who won his election with an anti-corruption campaign, politicians have started to back-paddle. As of November 12th, nine senators had already declared that they are waiving their PDAF (Priority Development Assistance Fund) – allocations for 2014.
The political establishment may find other ways of refinancing, though, similar to creative new money politics in Indonesia. Cash transfers being too dangerous now, credit card payments, insurance policies, fixed assets and landed property seem to be a way out…

Appendix: 1 billion Pesos are nearly 23 million US$