President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, irked by an accusation from a leading member of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) that he lied about his ties with Bunda Putri, has ordered the National Police to launch an investigation into the true identity of the mysterious woman.
National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo said an intelligence operation had been launched to get more information about Bunda, who was said to be a powerful lobbyist with close ties to the State Palace.
“This concerns the country’s president, so an investigation is a must. Let us just wait for the result,” Timur said over the weekend.
Timur said the investigation could help the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in its graft investigation, given the important role that Bunda allegedly played in the beef importation ease.
Former PKS leader and graft suspect Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq told the Jakarta Corruption Court last week that Bunda was no stranger to Yudhoyono.
“Bunda Putri is very close to SBY and she knows about the [Cabinet] reshuffle,” he told the panel of judges at the court in Kuningan, South Jakarta.
Later in the week, PKS deputy secretary-general Fahri Hamzah accused Yudhoyono of lying by pretending not to know Bunda.
Responding to the accusation, Yudhoyono staged a press conference soon after his arrival from Brunei Darussalam and said no State Palace officials or members of his family knew Bunda.
Yudhoyono also said there were no phone calls, mails, text messages or meetings between Bunda and his family. “If someone wants to meet, send a letter or call the President, he must go through a system,” he said. “My personal assistant would have known [if Bunda ever contacted me]. But 100 percent, nobody knows,” he said.
Late last week, Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam was forced to issue a denial that he personally knew Bunda after a photo circulating on social media showed him posing with what many identified as the woman in question.
Dipo said as a state official, many asked to take photos with him.
“One thing for sure, I don’t know who Bunda Putri is and I had nothing to do with her,” Dipo said.
Bunda is reportedly an alias for Non Saputri, the wife of the Agriculture Ministry’s horticulture director-general, Hasanuddin Ibrahim. She reportedly has close ties to high-ranking officials and is able to pull strings in the government.
Bunda was first mentioned by PKS chief patron Hilmi Aminuddin’s son, Ridwan Hakim, who claimed he only knew her as a businesswoman and that she acted as his mentor.
Agriculture Minister Suswono, a senior PKS member, then revealed he once met Bunda during an event in 2010 or 2011 in West Kalimantan that was also attended by Yudhoyono, further fueling speculation that she was a close friend of the President.
Rival politicians have lambasted Yudhoyono’s move to order the National Police to start an intelligence operation only to find the identity of Bunda.
“It’s really unnecessary. If the President wants to reveal the identity of Bunda Putra, he could immediately tell the public about it,” deputy chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement (Gerindra) Party Fadli Zon said as quoted by tribunnews.com.