Wednesday, 23 October 2019

National Police: The X-Factor

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The reassignment of 48 high-ranking national police officers last week indicates that merit is not the primary factor in the mutation of key officers. The rotation was not based on competency or organizational needs but on the management’s likes and dislikes towards a given figure.

    Such a perception, misconstrued as it may be, is inevitable following the reshuffling that left so many questions. The most striking of all is the transfer of chief of the national police’s crime unit (Bareskrim), Comsr. Gen. Arief Sulisyanto, who has occupied the post for just five months. He was replaced by Insp. Gen. Idham Azis, former Jakarta metro police chief who was once a contender for the deputy police chief post.

    Circulating rumors say that Arief was removed due to discord with the police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian who is also his former roommate at the police academy. Arief’s loyalty to his superior was questioned when he did not respond quickly to IndonesiaLeak’s investigative report in which Tito’s name was implicated. 

    IndonesiaLeaks, a collaborative reporting project operated by several media organizations, found Tito’s name in the transaction record of Basuki Hariman, a suspect in the beef import graft case.

    Although there is no evidence directly pointing to Tito, the report did ruffle quite some feathers at the national police headquarters. The relationship between Arief and Tito was already strained on the first day of Arief’s appointment as Bareskrim’s chief.

    Arief bluntly spoke about his objection to the national police chief’s practice of setting up ad hoc task forces to tackle cases that attract public attention. There were indeed many tasks forces— rice, sugar or football mafia, just to name a few—that Tito formed every time there was a major case although it is Bareskrim’s authority to investigate them.

    Establishing tasks forces and then taking a direct control of them not only disrupts the organizational structure but also indicates Tito’s lack of trust in the Bareskrim and the general who heads it. After all, it is impossible for Bareskrim to work optimally without the support of the force’s top brass.

    Tito and his staff may deny and dismiss all these indications as mere speculations but there is one thing they cannot repudiate—the highly secretive mutation and promotion process so shrouded in secrecy that even the officers involved are not aware of the assessment criteria or indicators used for their transfers or promotions. The x-factor is never disclosed. Not surprisingly, with such an obscure mechanism, closeness and loyalty to the boss becomes a determining factor.

    The career hierarchical system of the national police needs a very urgent overhaul. If the police chief truly wants to fix his institution and turn it into a professional, modern and trustworthy law enforcement agency, the promotion and mutation system must be improved. Transfer of officers must refer to their performance report which consists of their education and training background, assignments results, and compliance with the law and the anti-corruption code of conduct.

    Read the complete story in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine