The car crash was being widely mocked online as another tactic to avoid arrest.
Setya Novanto evaded the Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) when it raided his southern Jakarta home while his lawyer said he was “100-per-cent confident that he’s in Jakarta. He’s not a coward.”
Novanto is under investigation over claims he asked for a 10-per-cent payment from a firm making digital identity cards. The KPK has already summoned him 11 times over the case.
It is alleged he is among a group of legislators and business leaders that siphoned off millions from the project, costing Indonesia US$170 million in state losses.
There was little surprise that the Donald Trump-admiring House of Representatives Speaker was nowhere to be found this week when police arrived at his house but the car crash unleashed a wave of incredulity in contrast to the normal indifference to the devious moves of Indonesian politicians.
Many social media posts sympathised with the perceived victim of the crash: the power pole. On Twitter, #SaveTiangListrik (Save the power pole) has been trending.
Novanto, who is also head of the influential Golkar party, had emerged unscathed from multiple accusations of corruption involving huge sums, including an alleged attempt to extort US$1.8 billion from US mining giant Freeport, which controls the giant Grasberg copper and gold mine in remote Indonesian Papua.
On Thursday night, it was announced that the Speaker’s car had crashed and he had checked into Permata Hijau hospital in the south of the capital. His lawyer said he had been put under armed guard at hospital and he was seen heavily bandaged like a burns patient.
Last month, Novanto demanded the police prosecute anyone mocking him over an earlier hospital visit for diabetes, heart, kidney and vertigo issues.
At that time a photo of Novanto in a hospital bed showed him connected to a heart monitoring machine showing a flat line – suggesting he was either dead or not connected to it – sparked online ridicule and parodies.
Police briefly detained one internet user for creating pictures of Novanto wearing an oxygen mask and connected to a drip.
Setya Novanto’s Golkar party. Picture credit: Wikimedia