The central executive board of the Indonesian Buddhist Council has asked the Corruption Eradication Commission not to detain its chairwoman Siti Hartati Murdaya.
In a letter delivered to the office of the antigraft body known as the KPK on Friday, 12 board members listed five reasons why Hartati shouldn’t be detained.
Hartati has been named a suspect in a bribery case linked to land concession in Buol, Central Sulawesi.
“We really need the presence and leadership of Hartati Murdaya in running our social and religious organization,” Gatot Sukarno Adi, deputy secretary general of the council known as Walubi DPP, said on Friday.
Gatot insisted that Hartati’s presence and leadership were needed to maintain the solidarity of the 12 board members in Walubi, adding that it was feared her detention would affect the psychological condition of Buddhist people in Indonesia.
Walubi also considers Hartati’s detention as unnecessary, given her age.
“We believe that Ibu Hartati will respect and follow the legal process and that she’ll be cooperative. Therefore detention is not necessary,” Gatot said.
He went on to say that Walubi was ready to guarantee that Hartati would follow the investigation and trial process even if she was not detained.
The council also called on Buddhists in Indonesia not to be easily provoked by negative rumors related to Hartati.
The antigraft body has not yet detained Hartati, though it has the option to do so.
“The person in question will be detained if investigators need it or if her case is almost complete,” KPK chairman Abraham Samad said.
Marzuki Alie, speaker of the House of Representatives, said on Wednesday that Hartati had committed the alleged bribery because she had no other choice. Companies often struggle to set up businesses in Indonesia, he said, and can’t obtain business permits without bribing local officials.
“The problem in Indonesia is permit issuance,” said Marzuki, who is also the deputy chief patron of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party. “This case of Bu Hartati is like the tip of the iceberg. You can check all the businesses — they have all experienced the same thing.”