Jakarta. President Joko Widodo has said that he wants harmony between the Corruption Eradication Commission and the country’s other law enforcement agencies, a move that many say undermines the credibility of the antigraft body and provides impunity for corrupt law enforcers.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with BeritaSatu TV aired late on Tuesday, Joko said it was important for the antigraft agency, known as the KPK, to cooperate with the National Police and the Attorney General’s Office.
“They must go hand in hand, help each other. They must create a synergy in the fight against corruption. This must be the focus,” he said. “If these cooperations are established … there are a lot of things we can do to combat corruption. But if [each institution] follows its own ego, working alone, not sharing
information, then this is what happens.”
Joko was referring to tensions between the KPK and the National Police spurred after the former charged Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan, formerly Joko’s sole pick for police chief, as a suspect for bribery and money laundering on Jan. 12.
Since then, police have been digging up cold cases against all four KPK commissioners and dozens of investigators.
The sudden onslaught of cases brought by the police, some of them a decade old and all leveled on dubious grounds, has raised accusations of a retaliation by the police against the KPK over the Budi fiasco.
The now suspended KPK chief Abraham Samad has been charged with allegedly helping a prominent graft convict receive a reduced sentence last year in exchange for political backing from the convict’s party to support Abraham’s alleged bid to become vice president.
In a separate case, the South Sulawesi Police charged Abraham with document forgery after he allegedly falsified a document to help a woman, Feriyani Lim, apply for a passport in 2007.
Suspended KPK deputy chief Bambang Widjojanto is accused of compelling witnesses to commit perjury in an election dispute case that he handled as a lawyer in 2010.
Tensions eased after Joko dropped Budi’s nomination and appointed current police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti as his sole candidate for the post.
But Joko also suspended Abraham and Bambang from active duty, replacing them with three interim chiefs one of whom also temporarily replacing former deputy chairman Busyro Muqoddas, whose term expired last December.
Joko admitted that the interim chiefs were named based on their ability to quell tensions with the police.
“The KPK and the National Police must be saved as law enforcement institutions. This is the problem I have to sort out. But we realize that there is no policy or decision that can satisfy all,” he said.
KPK investigators and staffers were among the people who are unhappy with Joko’s decision, calling the interim chiefs “ghosts who are afraid of the police.”
The interim leaders submitted their case against Budi to the Attorney General’s Office on Monday, with interim chairman Taufiequrachman Ruki saying the KPK had “lost” in trying to go after the controversial police general.
Ruki was referring to a ruling last month by the South Jakarta District Court in a pretrial motion filed by Budi, which found that the KPK’s naming of Budi as a suspect was invalid.
Interim KPK commissioner Johan Budi appeared to hint on Monday that handing over Budi’s case to the AGO was done largely to stop the wave of retaliatory attacks by the police against the KPK.
“The situation inside the KPK is uncomfortable … because of all of these [police] summonses. Therefore, steps must be taken quickly by the KPK,” he said at the AGO headquarters in South Jakarta.
Another interim KPK commissioner, Indriyanto Seno Adji, said the handover was the legal option that “carries the least amount of risk” for the KPK.
The development has sparked anger from antigraft activists and supporters of the KPK, which has a 100 percent conviction rate against every individual it has ever named a suspect throughout its 12-year history.
Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo has already indicated his office will not pursue the case against Budi, potentially emboldening corruption suspects to file pretrial motions to have charges against them dropped before they are even indicted in a court.
“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” Prasetyo said of the controversy surrounding the hand over. “But we have a mechanism to follow.”
In an indication that the handing over of the case to the AGO was nothing more than a bargaining tool, police deputy chief Badrodin said they would likely drop all pending investigations into KPK commissioners and investigators except Abraham and Bambang.
Meanwhile, State Islamic University rector Komaruddin Hidayat dismissed Joko’s harmony argument, saying that the National Police and the Attorney General’s Office are rife with corruption.
“The police’s impact on the fight against corruption is nothing compared to the KPK’s,” the scholar said.
On Wednesday, dozens of former KPK commissioners and advisers visited the KPK office, expressing disappointment with its current leadership.
“All KPK alumni agree [that the KPK] should lodge a case review [to the Supreme Court on Budi’s case]. If not, then there will be a huge problem for Indonesia’s legal
system,” former KPK adviser Abdullah Hehamahua said.