Jakarta. The House of Representatives on Thursday endorsed the nomination of Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti as the new National Police chief, citing statements from the Corruption Eradication Commission, known as the KPK, and the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center, or PPATK, that he was clean of graft — squashing speculation to the contrary.
Badrodin’s nomination was unanimously voted on by the 283 lawmakers present at Thursday’s plenary session.
He currently serves as both the deputy police chief and the acting chief.
President Joko Widodo in February sent a letter to the House indicating Badrodin as his sole nominee for police chief.
The president withdrew his previous candidate, Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan, the month before following bribery allegations and an ensuing public outcry.
The plenary session on Thursday afternoon went smoothly after all 10 parties at the House approved Badrodin’s nomination.
The session took only half of an hour to conclude after the House’s legal affairs commission declared him as having passed the fit-and-proper test held earlier in the day.
“Commission III requests the annulment of the nomination of Budi Gunawan as the National Police chief candidate, and approves Badrodin Haiti as the selected candidate, with hopes that he will truly enhance the image of the National Police, enforce the law and protect the public,” said Aziz Syamsuddin, the head of House Commission III, which oversees legal affairs and human rights.
Legislators did not immediately approve Joko’s mid-March withdrawal of Budi’s nomination, summoning the president to discuss it last week.
Budi was red-flagged by the government’s PPATK in 2010 for suspiciously hefty amounts in his personal bank accounts.
The KPK named him a bribery suspect mid-January, just a few days after Joko submitted his nomination to the House.
The suspect status, though, was later overthrown by the South Jakarta District Court in a controversial ruling after Budi filed a pretrial motion against the KPK over the charges.
Badrodin was implicated in the same “fat accounts” scandal as Budi, which was unearthed in 2010.
PPATK chief M. Yusuf said in a hearing with legislators last week that Badrodin was indeed among a group of police generals that the anti-money-laundering agency reported to the National Police’s detectives’ unit at the time over hefty bank accounts.
He added, though, that the allegation against Badrodin had since been cleared after he was able to sufficiently explain a Rp 3 billion ($233,000) transaction through his bank account.
State-run news agency Antara in a January report cited data from the KPK that said Badrodin’s wealth amounted to nearly $650,000 as of May 2014, when he was appointed the police deputy chief.
Half of the figure came from property assets scattered in Jakarta, Bekasi, Depok, as well as Semarang, Central Java, and Pandeglang, Banten.
Yusuf, though, declared Badrodin clean from corruption.
“We’ve clarified that we’ve found no suspicious transactions involving [Badrodin],” he said during the hearing with Commission III members last week.
Acting KPK chief Taufiequrrahman Ruki also cleared Badrodin of any indication of corruption.
“B.H. [Badrodin] is a person who obediently reports his wealth regularly,” he testified at the same hearing before the House.
“Since the beginning, he has always updated his wealth reports.”
Badrodin, while presenting his platform during the fit-and-proper test on Thursday, called on legislators to create a regulation that would help curb the flow of Indonesian sympathizers of the extremist jihadist group Islamic State to Syria and Iraq.
“The National Police have stated several times that although ISIS is supposed to be banned here there is no regulation for it,” he said, referring to Islamic State by one of its acronyms.
“We cannot simply forbid people from traveling to Syria without clear reasons; because it is not against the law,” he said.
“This whole time we’ve been able to make [IS-related] arrests only when they concern other crimes — such as [passport] forgery and [terrorism] funding.”
Another priority focus will be to secure industrial activities from “thuggery and anarchic labor strikes,” including labor activists’ common practice of forcing other workers to join their strikes, Badrodin said.
“Thuggery by individuals and groups are problems for investment in the country,” he said.
“Forcing or pressuring industries [to do things] can destabilize the investment climate. Therefore, it will be among the National Police’s priorities to protect industrial zones.
“Labor activists may express their opinions, but they cannot force other laborers to join their strikes,” he added.
Badrodin said structural reforms, anti-corruption programs and improving the welfare of police personnel would be among his other priorities during his 15 months in office.
Badrodin, 56, is due to enter retirement in July next year.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla said Badrodin would probably be sworn in as the police chief at an inauguration ceremony at the State Palace in Central Jakarta today.
House Speaker Setya Novanto said the House’s endorsement of Badrodin was expected to ease the work of the police in securing the upcoming 60th anniversary commemorations of the Asian-African Conference in Jakarta and Bandung next week, which more than 30 world leaders and more than 60 foreign delegations are expected to attend.
Badrodin’s appointment will officially end a three-month-long period of a police force without a chief after Joko removed Gen. Sutarman from office on Jan. 16, despite his not being due for retirement until October.
Indonesia Corruption Watch researcher Emerson Yuntho on Thursday expressed concern that the appointment of Badrodin, seen by many to be close to the ousted nominee Budi, would pave the way for the latter to become the deputy police chief — although public resistance to him remains high.
The police chief has the authority to appoint his own deputy, not needing approval from either the president or the House.
If Budi is appointed his deputy, he will be able to assume the position of police chief, again without House vetting, when Badrodin’s term ends.