Jakarta (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Indonesian business tycoon and religious leader Hartati Murdaya avoided more humiliation at the hands of her comrades in the ruling Democratic Party and colleagues in a presidential advisory group by announcing her resignation just before being axed from the two organisations.
The suspect in a bribery scandal tendered her resignation both from the Democratic Party's board of patrons and the National Economic Committee (KEN) yesterday, arguing that she was already preoccupied with preparations for her trial.
"I joined the Democratic Party because I was asked to contribute to develop the party. I was asked to participate in the National Economic Committee for a similar reason. I accepted both positions because I felt obliged as a citizen of this country."
"But I must resign from both posts due to my current situation, which will make it impossible for me to appropriately carry out my job," said the businesswoman and chairperson of the Indonesian Buddhist Association (Walubi) in a written statement.
Separately, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik, also a member of the Democratic Party's board of patrons, told reporters that the party had also issued a letter to suspend Murdaya from her post as a party patron.
"I have signed the letter. Our party's statute stipulates that any party official who is named a corruption suspect shall be suspended from the party executive board," Wacik said yesterday.
KEN chairman Chairul Tanjung has not commented on Murdaya's resignation. But other executive members have expressed their concerns over Murdaya's case.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) declared her a suspect in a bribery case, accusing her of paying 3 billion rupiah (US$315,000) to Amran Batalipu, the regent of Buol regency in Central Sulawesi.
Murdaya allegedly bribed Batalipu for the release of land concessions for her two companies, PT Cipta Cakra Murdaya and PT Hartati Inti Plantation. According to the KPK, the money was dispatched in two stages: 1 billion rupiah on June 18 and 2 billion rupiah on June 26.
She is facing up to five years in prison and a 250 million rupiah fine if found guilty by the Jakarta Corruption Court. Up to now no graft defendants have been acquitted by the court.
"I have no reason to bribe the authority in Buol because my companies have been operating in the area since 1994," Murdaya said in her statement.
The House of Representatives Speaker Marzuki Alie, her colleague in the party, said the absence of Murdaya in the party would not have a significant impact on the party as she had played an "insignificant" role in its management.