Jakarta (ANTARA) - Decision to name Johnny G. Plate as suspect in an alleged corruption case prior to the 2024 General Election has nothing to do with politics, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud MD stated.

"The investigation kicked off in June 2022 because in March, there was a request for extension. It was extended up to April, (there was a lot that seemed) wrong; (and) in May, when it was reviewed, (it also seemed) odd. Then, in June, the investigation began, and currently, the legal proceedings are ongoing. Thus, there is no relation to the general election, with any presidential candidates or such things," the minister remarked at the Presidential Palace Complex here on Monday.

He made the statement after meeting President Joko Widodo.

The Attorney General's Office named Plate as suspect in the case of alleged corruption in the Base Transceiver Station (BTS) project while serving as the communication and informatics minister for the 2019-2023 period.

Mahfud stressed that there were no political motives behind the investigation into the alleged corruption case that was said to cause losses to the tune of Rp8 trillion (US$537 million). He said that Plate was the secretary general of NasDem party, and his position in the party has been replaced by Hermawi Taslim.

President Jokowi appointed Mahfud as acting communication and informatics minister, as per Presidential Decree No. 41/P of 2023 outlining termination and appointment of acting communication and informatics minister of the Indonesia Onward Cabinet 2019-2024 as well as its authority, duty, and responsibility.

The minister spoke of reporting to the head of state on the progress in the Communication and Informatics Ministry's BTS project that has been planned and kicked off in 2006. The progress went smoothly until 2019, he pointed out.

However, the project encountered some issues in the 2020-2021 period, Mahfud pointed out.

"In December, when the report on funding uses should have been handed, there was neither the (report) nor the progress on BTS itself, the towers, until December 2021," he remarked.

He noted that COVID-19 was also a reason cited by the budget recipients for leniency in the project's progress.

"It is not legally allowed, but (eventually), it was extended until March 21," he stated.

After they were granted leniency, they reported that 1,100 of the targeted 4,200 towers had been completed, the minister remarked.

Satellite was deployed to check on the progress, and it turned out that there were only 958 towers, though it is unknown whether all of them were functional, the minister revealed.

"Of the 958 towers, it is unknown whether they are functional, because of the eight samples tested, none of them worked as the set specifications," he remarked.

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Translator: Indra Arief Pribadi, Mecca Yumna
Editor: Sri Haryati
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