Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo targeted over air pollution

Image copyright EPA Image caption Fireworks explode over Jakarta following the re-election of the incumbent president Joko Widodo Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo has been found negligent by the country’s Corruption Eradication Commission over what…

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo targeted over air pollution

Image copyright EPA Image caption Fireworks explode over Jakarta following the re-election of the incumbent president Joko Widodo

Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo has been found negligent by the country’s Corruption Eradication Commission over what critics have called delays in tackling air pollution.

A separate probe found two former ministers, Setya Novanto and Yusril Ihza Mahendra, committed the same offence.

The crackdown is part of President Widodo’s wide-ranging crackdown on corruption, aimed at tackling two of Indonesia’s biggest problems – congestion and pollution.

He has called for public donations to pay for new air purifiers.

Indonesia’s high density of vehicles – more than 20m on the roads – and fierce competition to build factories and roads have meant big numbers of emissions – chiefly tailpipe fumes – are left in the atmosphere each day.

Reforestation is a big problem – as pine, eucalyptus and other trees are cut down to clear land for agriculture and building.

A three-year environmental investigation into the pollution has led to a spate of raids across the capital, Jakarta, and accused the government of being indecisive.

Image copyright EPA Image caption Indonesia’s president also faces accusations of delays on corruption-prevention

President Widodo had promised citizens “transparency and honesty” in government, but instead the probe has uncovered that the offices were unable to act, said commission head Luhut Pandjaitan.

Mr Pandjaitan told a news conference his team was “disappointed” with President Widodo’s lack of urgency in tackling pollution and the failure to investigate certain corruption accusations.

He said his investigators had been unable to keep pace with the speed of the illegal cutting of trees and the rapid expansion of the city’s concrete infrastructure.

“Air pollution is a serious issue,” he said. “It could end up affecting public health as well as business activities.”

During his campaign Mr Widodo had promised to make Jakarta “the cleanest city in the world”.

Probes launched

However, the probe has focused on what has happened since the presidential elections in April.

In the weeks before President Widodo was re-elected, his supporters falsely claimed that someone was planning to start deforestation on President Widodo’s behalf – an election tactic called “vote rigging”.

Mr Pandjaitan said a wiretap during the wiretaps made it clear the claims were made with the intention of calling the president’s bluff and making him reveal his plans for pollution control.

Former environment minister Novanto and the city’s former chief environmental officer, Mr Mahendra, were also ordered to pay back millions of dollars found to have been embezzled by them.

The commission is charged with fighting corruption by preventing the illicit enrichment of public officials and recovering ill-gotten gains.

Image copyright EPA Image caption Indonesia will continue to crackdown on corruption, President Widodo has said

Image copyright EPA Image caption Under Mr Widodo’s leadership, Indonesia’s population has risen to 250 million

President Widodo said the commission’s investigation was “untrue” and revealed that he had “intended to deal with these subjects”.

He said that, because of the investigation, Jakarta’s air quality had improved.

Indonesia’s previous people’s president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono became one of the country’s wealthiest men with an extensive real estate portfolio – with properties in London and Manhattan.

In one of the world’s most populous countries, people with great wealth often buy and sell properties or businesses with regularity.

The president vowed that he and his ministers would remain “open to the truth” in their dealings with the public and the probe will continue.

“We will continue [investigating] corruption and the wastage of public money,” he said.

He later tweeted: “We must recognise that such investigation touches the heart of our nation. These are not just issues of corruption but important issues for each Indonesian, even small business owners.”

Image copyright EPA Image caption Under President Widodo’s presidency, Indonesia’s population has grown to 250 million people

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