Corruption scandal threatens Jakarta E-Prix

The 2022 Jakarta E-Prix, currently scheduled for June 4th, is at the centre of a local government controversy as the city’s Governor Anies Baswedan is under investigation from an anti-corruption commission after allegations that he illegally used a 180 Billion Rupiah bank loan to fund the race.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is in the middle of an investigation after a public community forum for justice reported Baswedan for alleged corruption, with a major concern being the governor’s decision to fulfill the city’s commitment fee to Formula E Operations (FEO) in the midst of a pandemic.

Public demonstrations took place outside Jakarta town hall in September, led by the BMI wing of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), with many brandishing posters which read “Reject and Cancel Formula E in Jakarta” and “People need breakfast, not racing.”

“This activity is of course a follow-up to information submitted by the public regarding the implementation of Formula E in DKI Jakarta to the KPK.” said acting KPK spokesperson Ali Fikri in a statement on Thursday, November 4th. “However, because it is still in the initial process of collecting information, we cannot present the investigation material at this time.” He added.

The major point of contention occurred on the 22nd of August 2019 when the city’s Youth and Sports Agency, Dispora, paid a commitment fee to FEO using a RP180 billion loan from DKI Bank to secure the city a spot on the Formula E calendar for the following Summer.

A month later, the city’s 2019 regional budget was enacted on the 24th of September, in which a regional regulation bill was passed allocating RP360 billion towards the E-Prix, made up of taxpayers’ money.

Originally the deal was made between the city and Formula E to host the Jakarta E-Prix on the 6th of June 2020 as part of season six, but the COVID-19 global pandemic led the race to be postponed until season eight.

In 2020, a second commitment fee of RP200 billion was paid to Formula E, with the current total paid to FEO amounting to RP983.31 billion. (Equivalent to £53 million)

“If Anies Baswedan ordered Dispora to pay the commitment fee without the bill, it will potentially violate Government Regulation No. 12 of 2019.” Wrote Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) member Anggara Wicitra Sastroamidjojo in a statement to the Jakarta Legislative Council, in which he also questioned why the city refused to disclose the invoice from FEO.

When asked by journalists about the KPK’s investigation by reporters in central Jakarta on Friday the 5th of November 2021, Baswedan refused to make a statement on the matter, responding: “That’s enough: There are no other issues, okay?”

Criticism has already been levied towards Baswedan in January 2020 when flash flooding displaced 60,000 people and killed 66, with the budget for the race being found to vastly exceed the budget allocated towards flood mitigation. Jakarta has also become the fastest sinking city in the world, at a rate of 10 centimetres per year, which is double the global average. If current rates continue, half of the city is predicted to sink below sea level by 2025.

“Why did Formula E become a priority program? That’s the question.” Said Gembong Warsano, chairman of the PDIP in a statement at the Jakarta Legislative Council on Friday November 12th. “The answer is simple, to cover up all (Baswedan’s) unrealized programs.”

“People who are flooded, those who are promised to get a house, and those who want to be entrepreneurs will forget, distracted by Formula E. That’s what I think.”

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