Veronica Koman a.k.a Vero and LPDP is trending in Twitter Indonesia.
West Papua Blog (WPB) – I don’t like to write an argumentum ad hominem (a term that refers to several types of arguments attacking a person’s character). However, I did write some articles about Benny Wenda in the context of questioning his honesty. The main reason of such articles is very simple, the overwhelming online data regarding Benny’s Free West Papua hoax campaign.
Today, I want to share my view about Veronica Koman press release defending herself from the case of breaking her agreement with Lembaga Pengelola Dana Pendidikan (LPDP) or Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education.
As a lawyer, Koman cleverly stated: “the government of Indonesia has imposed a financial punishment upon me in a new attempt to pressure me into stopping my human rights advocacy work in West Papua.”
Thousands of her online buzzers on Facebook or Twitter spontaneously almost like bot shared and liked her post. Some genuine replies show a conflicting opinions.
The pro Koman’s defense, mostly underlined the possibility of government threat against freedom of speech. Whereas, the contra side mentioned the binding agreement has nothing to do with Koman’s position as the so called West Papuan human rights defender. I
t is about Koman’s integrity and honesty when she signed the agreement with Indonesian Endowment Fund for Education.
The amount of money that LPDP request is around 773 millions rupiah or equal to 53 thousand US dollar. Whether the amount of money is big or not is debatable. In my experience living in Australia and several other Western countries, such amount of money is equal to one or two months salary for fresher. Not that much, right? However, for most Indonesian and especially West Papuan, they need many years to reach that amount, depend on how much they earn every month.
I would like to underline two things here. First, if the reason of LPDP request is only about the money, then it will loose its moral ground. The fallacious reasoning by focusing on returning the money will be counter productive because Koman will easily escaped and twisted the case by attacking the government of Indonesia as punishing her financially. She has the tendency to over exaggerate in every single campaign for branding her name as human rights defender. If you check her social media accounts, you will find easily how provocative her statements are. Hundreds and thousands followers and fans diligently and obediently disseminate her statements. It looks like viral statements, but in reality I don’t buy it.
Another way of twisting the request from LPDP is by connecting it with the criminal charges, fake interpol Red Notice, and threat of cancellation of Koman’s passport. All together as evidence that the government of Indonesia is trying to criminalize Koman.
Second, the correct reason of bringing up the case of Koman’s scholarship should be based on what is written in the agreement between LPDP and Veronica Koman. If Koman breached the agreement, it is normal procedure for LPDP to raise the case against her. It should be noted that such case is easy to be twisted as I mentioned before.
Moral reason can be added to Koman case independently from West Papua case. Why is it important to guarantee that LPDP’s way of action is free from political motive?
It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong, if political motive drives LPDP to pursue Koman’s responsibility to return the Indonesian tax payer money, political motive will always weak in such case.
The correct way to pursue Koman through the case is by clarifying everything involving the processes, procedures, and the binding agreement that Koman signed. Out of that will never work.
I read from newspaper that the demand from LPDP has been made along with a claim that koman failed to comply with her obligation as scholarship receiver. She may have dedicated her work for human rights advocacy in West Papua. However, she also spend much of her time provoking conflict in the region by campaigning and advocating for West Papua independent. She called Indonesia as colonizer (Penjajah) and she even had spread lies about common practice of using snake to torture petty crime in West Papua and Papua provinces. In the same video, she said that the Indonesians think of West Papuans as “sub-human”. I don’t want to waste this article only to mention Koman’s smear campaign against Indonesia. If you want to read some other evidences of Koman’s paradox of defending human rights and provoking conflict, please read here or here.
In her press release, Veronica Koman claimed a barrage of death and rape threats. If that is true, then it must be a stupidity of some ultra nationalist who act before thinking. There is also a possibility of playing as victim to generate sympathy from public. We don’t know who is right.
The decision of LPDP to raise the case against Koman is clearly a civil case regarding agreement between the two parties. Koman as usual distorted the facts by accusing the government of Indonesia punishes her as a human rights defender on behalf of West Papuans.
She even cunningly dragged Indonesian Ministry of Finance, Sri Mulyani as if the civil case against her is the same as persecution against human rights defenders.
So What? Why should I write about Veronica Koman who I didn’t even know?” To summarize, I would like to ask readers of this blog to think about the two things I underlined above.
First, LPDP should be very careful and stick to the written agreement and never touch other things beyond the signed agreement, for example mentioning about West Papua case.
Second, it is not only about the Indonesian tax payer’s IDR 773.876.918 money. More importantly the message should be clear that Koman breached the agreement, betrayed Indonesian tax payers, and she can’t be trusted. It is a question of integrity and honesty for her as a lawyer, academic, and human rights defender.