Staffing Shortages See KPK Turn to TNI
Jakarta. Activists are sceptical about plans by the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, to recruit military officials, with some saying the move could strengthen the once-feared agency but most raising concerns about the body’s independence.
Indonesian Military (TNI) spokesman Maj. Gen. Fuad Basya was the first to reveal the plan, saying on Tuesday that the KPK first came up with the suggestion during a meeting with TNI commanders.
“At the time the KPK leaders explained their wishes to recruit TNI investigators,” he said, as quoted by Tempo.co news portal. “In principle we are ready to assist the KPK. If needed, we will provide [the KPK] with our best men.”
But TNI officers are currently only permitted to assume certain civilian posts, such as with the Ministry of Defense, the Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) and the State Intelligence Agency (BIN).
“For the KPK it is not yet warranted [by law],” he said. “The most likely scenario is to wait for a revision of the Law on State Agencies.”
The KPK relies on civilian auditors and officers on loan from the National Police, as well as dozens of former police officers who have joined the agency on a permanent basis.
This often makes it difficult to investigate corruption cases which involve the police, popularly dubbed the country’s most corrupt institution.
The KPK has also recently been the target of retaliation after naming active police officers suspects.
In 2012, police tried to launch an investigation against a leading KPK investigator, Novel Baswedan, in response to the KPK’s move to charge then-police traffic corps chief Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo for bribery.
Djoko is now serving 18 years in prison and the case against Novel was halted after then-president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono intervened.
But the case against Novel was revived shortly after the KPK in January charged then-police chief candidate Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan in relation to another bribery case.
The National Police also charged KPK chairman Abraham Samad and his deputy Bambang Widjojanto over cases dating back to 2006, as well as threatening to launch separate investigations against two dozen other leaders and investigators.
The fallout resulting from the Budi Gunawan case seriously weakened the KPK, particularly as Abraham and Bambang were suspended from active duty pending the investigations against them.
The military, which has long been involved in its own spats and rivalries with the police, has been actively assisting the KPK in the skirmish, including guarding the KPK headquarters in South Jakarta from a rumored police attack.
Involving TNI officers as members of the KPK’s investigation team could potentially give the KPK much needed support in the ongoing feud with the police.
“Given the current situation between the KPK and police, it’s quite understandable that the KPK is seeking help from other institutions besides police and the AGO [Attorney General’s Office],” said Hendardi, chairman of the Setara Institute.
Haris Azhar, coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), however called the plan “a dilemma.”
“As we know, [the KPK’s] position right now is shaky, so maybe they need backup,” Haris said. “However, recruiting from the military could be harmful for the KPK should they investigate graft cases involving military officials or the Defense Ministry. Professionalism [of the KPK] will be at stake.”
The TNI, once the dominant force in the government under president Suharto’s reign, has been criticized about its lack of transparency and accountability, even in the post-New Order era.
President Joko Widodo has increased military spending three-fold to quell the TNI’s rivalry with the police.
Activists have noted that the TNI has done a poor job in reforming itself with officers involved in protection rackets, human rights abuses and illegal businesses which are rarely prosecuted or punished.
“Recruiting KPK investigators from the military is never a good option,” Hendardi said. “They’re not law enforcers and they should be doing their job without meddling with the civilian matters.”
Haris of Kontras added: “I must say that there are more disadvantages than advantages about the plan.”
“Moreover … whoever is involved won’t bring too much change as long as the KPK continues to be weak like now.”
Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) coordinator Ade Irawan said the KPK should focus on recruiting more civilian investigators and auditors to cope with the backlog of open cases.
Hendardi said the president’s administration needs to issue key policies to strengthen the KPK, including making the ad-hoc agency a permanent body.
“There must be efforts to strengthen the KPK’s position so it won’t be easily shaken by police and the AGO,” he said.
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Source: The Jakarta Globe