Edhy Prabowo, the Maritime and Fisheries Minister, was arrested by the Indonesian anti-graft authorities upon his arrival at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport on a Wednesday morning.
He was said to have returned from a trip from Hawaii together with his wife, Rosita Dewi, and he also undertook a trip from February to March to focus on the lobster and fisheries cultivation in Australia. Arrested due to charges of corruption, the Indonesian fisheries minister became the first cabinet member who was detained over graft allegations during President Joko Widodo’s second term.
Later on that day, a press conference is expected for the agency to announce details and make official statements about the case. Firli Bahuri, the KPK chief, told the media that Edhy Prabowo is apparently involved in a corruption case against export permit issuances for lobster larvae. Chief Firli Bahuri also said that Prabowo is currently being interrogated and investigated at the KPK.
Edhy Prabowo is headed to jail together with five other people, including ministry officials and his family members. The committed corruption includes:
- lifting the ban on the exports of lobster larvae which was introduced by Susi Pudjiastuti, Prabowo’s predecessor,
- and receiving bribes from several fishing companies to secure export permits
The lifting of the ban on lobster larvae exports was very controversial because it was Susi Pudjiastuti, Prabowo’s predecessor, who implemented it in the first place. Prabowo has sparked controversy since October of last year.
Susi Pudjiastuti is also known for her grabbing policy headline for illegal fishing boats blowing up including ships from Vietnam and China. Over concerns of sustainability, Pudjiastuti announced the ban on exports in 2016.
The Indonesian Tempo magazine has written an exclusive report that Prabowo had granted the invalid permits to thirty private entities for the lobster larvae exports, and twenty-five of those entities were suspicious, unregistered companies that only started a few months ago.
These companies have paid a huge amount to the ministry in order to have their permits granted for the illegal exports. Some of those company owners are known to be politicians or have political connections. However, the Indonesian Fishery ministry responded that those companies were only granted permits mainly because they met the specific requirements for the exports of lobster farming.
Edhy Prabowo and another cabinet member are the only members of Widodo’s cabinet under the Gerindra Party. The other member is Prabowo Subianto, the chairman of Gerindra party and the former opposition leader. Widodo won against Subianto both in the 2019 and 2014 presidential elections and Subianto is now serving as the defense minister.
Meanwhile, the arrest of the Indonesian fishery minister has triggered a lot of questions regarding the Subianto-Widodo coalition’s long-term stability. Gadjah Mada University’s political lecturer, Kuskridho Ambardi, was interviewed and said that he believes the event was played in favor of President Joko Widodo.
Moreover, the political lecturer also stated that the controversy could not cease the coalition; however, he thinks that the minister’s arrest can cause Gerindra to eventually lose their bargaining position as Widodo’s position will continue to strengthen.