Police Chief Candidate Budi Gunawan’s Future Remains Clouded
Jakarta. Several lawmakers are continuing to push President Joko Widodo to inaugurate graft suspect Budi Gunawan as the country’s next police chief, claiming that the speaker of the House of Representatives, who has recently expressed support for whatever decision Joko might take, was not speaking on their behalf.
House Speaker Setya Novanto and four of his deputies met the president at the State Palace this week to discuss the fate of his sole nominee for the post of police chief, who has been named a suspect for bribery by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
Setya, who is a Golkar Party politician, promised that there would be no political fallout if Joko decided not to proceed with Budi’s inauguration, despite the fact that the House already endorsed his nomination. But members of Setya’s own party seem to disagree. Ade Komaruddin, chairman of the Golkar faction in the House, and his secretary Bambang Soesatyo, said Setya’s remarks do not represent all legislators.
The speaker “cannot just reach his own conclusions as to what the House’s official stance would be. Leaving the decision [to inaugurate Budi or cancel it] entirely in the hands of the president is degrading the supremacy of the House,” Bambang said. “The House plenary endorsed [Budi] as police chief, as the president himself has recommended. Like it or not, the president must install him.”
One of Setya’s deputies, Fahri Hamzah of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), also changed his stance, despite being present at the meeting with the president earlier. “So what if [the president] inaugurates a corruption suspect?” Fahri said.
“The president can always suspend him afterwards. The solution is simple.”
Fahri said the president would show disrespect to all public institutions that have cleared Budi’s nomination and risk disrupting their ties to the palace.
“Inaugurating [Budi] and suspending him afterwards is the best solution,” Fahri said. But the House speaker denied that he made a hasty decision on the controversy.
“The rules and regulations state that appointing a police chief is the president’s prerogative,” Setya said. “We can’t refute this fact.”
The Law on the National Police states that the House has up to 20 days to endorse the president’s candidate, after which he can inaugurate his pick with or without legislative approval. But the law does not say that a president must inaugurate his pick after the House’s endorsement.
Despite the absence of any legal threat, Joko has delayed Budi’s inauguration, a move analysts said was prompted by fears of a political backlash, especially from his Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
Budi served as a security aide to PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri during her term as president.
Joko met opposition leader Prabowo Subianto of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) last week, after which Prabowo aired his support for any decision Joko might take.
On Tuesday night, the president also met with leaders of the six-party Awesome Indonesia Coalition (KIH), which backed his nomination during last year’s election. But experts have warned that although the party leaders, including the PDI-P’s, might publicly support Joko, it would likely be another story behind the scenes should he decide to cancel Budi’s inauguration.
Joko has said he would make a decision on the controversy next week, following his trips to several neighboring countries. But rumors persist that Joko may yet decide not to inaugurate Budi and come up with a new candidate.
The chief of the National Police’s general supervision inspectorate, Comr. Gen. Dwi Priyatno, visited the police commission on Friday, sparking speculation he may be on the list of candidates to replace Budi.
“This is just a friendly visit to the commission,” Dwi said at the National Police headquarters in Jakarta on Friday. “I have no idea [about being included on the list of candidates]. But whoever is appointed, will have to be ready.”
Separately, Edi Hasibuan, a member of the National Police Commission, said Dwi’s visit was part of the body’s efforts to speak with National Police chief candidates.
“We’re still in talks with all the names. Later on, we’ll make a decision choosing one of the nine,” Edi said.
Potential candidates include three-star generals such as Budi Waseso, chief of the National Police’s detectives unit; current deputy chief Badrodin Haiti; security chief Putut Eko Bayu Seno; National Defense Institute governor Boy Salamuddin and anti-narcotics chief Anang Iskandar.
Intelligence chief Djoko Mukti Haryono; National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) chief Saud Usman Nasution; and former chief of detectives Suhardi Alius could also be on the list.
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