TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Heru Winarko was working on the arrest of Mayor of Kendari Adriatma Dwi Putra and Southeast Sulawesi Governor Asrun in connection with a bribery investigation, when a Presidential Palace officer called, on the afternoon of Wednesday, February 28. The caller informed Heru that he, enforcement deputy at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), had been appointed to lead the National Narcotics Agency (BNN).
Heru, 55, said the appointment came as a surprise. National Police and KPK leaders had already asked him if he would be willing to lead the BNN to replace Budi Waseso, who was retiring. But still, he could not sleep the night after he received the phone call. "Why was I elected as head of the BNN?" he wondered.
The former Central Jakarta Police chief has extensive experience in special economic crimes and corruption. Before he became chief of the Lampung Police in 2012, he had been assigned to the National Police's Special Economic Crimes Division and Special Corruption Division. "Previously, the criminal investigation division also oversaw the narcotics unit," said Heru, who was sworn in by President Joko Widodo at the State Palace on March 1. He also got a rank promotion, from inspector general to commissioner general.
Monday last week, Heru received Tempo reporters Indri Maulidar, Angelina Anjar, and Reza Maulana at his office in Cawang, East Jakarta. Accompanied by BNN spokesperson Sulistiandriatmoko, Heru talked about the feud among internal KPK investigators and police working at the KPK, as well as his relationship with Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, his former superior. Sulistiandriatmoko also responded to several of our questions.
What did the President say at your swearing-in?
The President’s order was to reduce the traffic of narcotics coming in, the number of new users, and recovered drug users who have relapsed. He only smiled once the swearing-in ceremony was over.
Who made the phone call?
A person from the Palace phoned one day before the swearing-in ceremony. I was at the office, working late. Whenever my men are out on a sting operation, I can’t just go home. So at the ceremony, I was a feeling a bit tired because I hadn’t had enough sleep. I felt like I was about to fall. It has been a while since I have been in a ceremony.
Did the President summon you before the swearing-in ceremony?
No. I was directly sworn into office.
Some circles have questioned your background since you have more experience in economic crimes and corruption.
I have always been in a criminal investigation. After graduating from the Police Academy in 1985, I became deputy chief of the Bandung Police’s criminal investigation unit because I had exposed a motorcycle theft ring in Cimahi, West Java, while recent graduates usually start out as a Pamapta (an officer in a Samapta Bhayangkara patrol unit). I was also chief of the North Jakarta Police’s criminal unit. The narcotics division used to be under the chief of a criminal investigation. The division became independent in the 2000s. So I know enough about narcotics.
But doesn’t the BNN handle narcotics cases in a more specific way?
Yes, but there are many experts here. I have plenty to learn from them.
When did you start meeting with BNN deputies?
I spent the first three days exploring, and asked the deputies to teach me. On the fifth day, I had to go to Vienna to attend a UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conference. After three days there, I had to return on March 16 to prepare BNN programs. This morning, I spoke to the staff and conveyed my hopes for the office. We have to complement one another.
What differences have you noticed between the KPK and the BNN?
At the KPK, we would work until late at night. At BNN, the office is quiet after 5pm. Only certain divisions work until nighttime.
What are you bringing with you from the KPK?
Here, everything is well-organized. I only need to formulate the office’s focus-for instance, rehabilitation. We have to be on the same page.
You prefer rehabilitation over sanctioning?
Everything must work in concert. In respect to rehabilitation, it’s not too difficult to treat drug users. The problem is that users prefer going to correctional facilities over drug rehabilitation.
Why is that?
Rehabilitation invites people to recover, while not all users want to get clean.
What percentage of recovered drug users end up relapsing?
About 20 percent of the 15,000 users who had gone through our rehabilitation program.
What is the rehabilitation target for this year?
We are going to increase (participants) between 20,000 to 22,000 drug users. But our rehab facilities can only accommodate 18,000. So we’re going to add more rehabilitation centers. We have 127 rehab centers. This year we’ll build 23 more. We hope that families will report their offspring who get involved in narcotics so that they can be rehabilitated. If parents fail to make a report, there’s a chance they may be charged.
What if families don’t report because they’re afraid of potential sanctioning
Sulis: They will not be processed by law if they make the report voluntarily. These rumors were actually started by drug dealers. They try to frighten people so that users will stay addicted.
Heru: We’re in a battle of opinions with the drug dealers. If drug users are all joined together, it would make it easier for dealers to sell drugs.
Those dealers who have been given the death sentence are still running their networks. Is the death penalty ineffective?
This is because they have the opportunity to file repeated requests for case reviews. Sanctions against them must be sterner.
What can be harsher than the death penalty?
One way is to impoverish them. I want to make all drug dealers poor. I did this when I was chief of the Lampung Police.
Read the full interview in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine