Saturday, 25 January 2020

KPK Deputy Chair Saut Situmorang: Find Clean and Ferocious 'Cats'

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  • TEMPO.CO, JakartaThe leadership selection process at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is under scrutiny following the selection committee’s announcement of 20 shortlisted candidates last week for the agency’s top seats.

    Anti-corruption activists questioned the presence of individuals with unfavorable backgrounds among the candidates, with offenses varying from non-compliance with the requirement to declare assets to ethics violation during their service with the KPK. The selection committee is currently choosing 10 prospective candidates to be proposed to President Joko Widodo. During the protest held in front of the KPK building last Friday, the activists joined under Civil Society Coalition for KPK Emergency and the KPK employee organization asked President Jokowi to erase the candidates of proven lack of quality and integrity from the list.

    The KPK itself has already given input to the selection committee as regards the candidates’ track record. KPK’s Deputy Chair Saut Situmorang said that his agency had marked the candidates in red and black inks for the selection committee. “It means they need to pay attention to the red ones, of course,” Saut, 60, said in a special interview with Tempo last Wednesday, August 30.

    Interviewed by Tempo’s Mustafa Silalahi, Ricky Ferdianto, Linda Trianita and Aisha Shaidra, Saut explained about KPK’s recommendations to the selection committee as well as his decision to not register as a candidate for another term. “I think I can do a lot more outside the KPK,” he said.

    The KPK leadership selection process this time drew criticism. The selection committee is viewed as not heeding the input including from the KPK.

    Other than giving guidance, we cannot interfere with the committee’s work. That’s why it’s important that civil societies must also give input. Say the KPK data is not valid, then there should be other data to support, to help, if we all want Indonesia to be better. At this time, everyone agrees that the KPK is good in terms of function, supervision, coordination or monitoring, as the law dictates it to be. I think the selection committee must really be able to find demi-gods; really clean and ferocious ‘cats’.

    Is it true that there is a political mission (by some sides) to ‘occupy’ the KPK through this selection?

    I didn’t hear of any political agenda. If there is, I don’t believe it will work in the KPK. Trust me, after four years with the KPK, (I can say) that things like that don’t work. KPK investigators are very independent.

    During the public evaluation, one of the candidates, Insp. Gen. Firli Bahuri, said that his meeting with Muhammad Zainul Majdi did not violate code of ethics.

    KPK advisor, Muhammad Tsani Annafari, who is part of the employee advisory board (DPP), has already said that it was a serious violation, hasn’t he? Pak Tsani said, “The bottom line is if he’s in, I’m out.” I don’t know who he referred to. I don’t want to point the finger (at anyone).

    (During the public evaluation on August 27, Firli denied having violated the code of ethics when he was KPK’s deputy for enforcement. In May 2018, Firli met with Muhammad Zainul Majdi, West Nusa Tenggara Governor that time, familiarly known as Tuan Guru Bajang, when the KPK was investigating suspected corruption in Newmont’s share divestment. Firli said that the KPK had approved the meeting.)

    What is your opinion?

    This is just like when I first joined the KPK and many people suspected me. It means, proven quality is indeed critical. If, for example, the selection committee has chosen, please let’s not be bothered about whether the ‘cat’ has scabies or not. The question is whether it can catch mice or not. If it turns out that he cannot, he will face backlash here (within the KPK). Here, we have a clear oversight system and investigators are very independent. Anyone who attempts but fails to meet the nine KPK values will not last long.

    If anyone with such a criterion passes through the selection, won’t KPK’s performance be disrupted?

    Investigators are highly independent. I guess noises will have effects but not on KPK’s performance. We have a clear performance target: to work on at least 200 cases a year. Perhaps there may be preferences towards certain cases. Investigators themselves will evaluate them. So, if people ask if we trust the selection team to find the right people for the KPK or not, the KPK has indicated to them the candidates that need to be considered. We marked each dossier with red and black inks.

    What color does Firli get?

    Ask the selection committee.

    What do red and black colors signify?

    Red means it needs attention.

    Is black safe?

    Not really but we consider it to be better. We didn’t order (the markings). Our colleagues at the internal supervisory unit typed them (in different ink colors). I said, “Well, Ok, just send them over. No need to change the colors again.”

    Was the list sent to the committee complete?

    Some of the files are not complete. The KPK also has its limitations. Not everything could be spelled out in details. For example, their past, say previous work history. Some people’s information is indicated in points. Our data may be good in our opinions but the public’s data is more exhaustive. That’s why we asked the public to assist us by giving input so that we could have a complete picture. When it comes to integrity, it will not change. That in my opinion is a given.

    Was it presented before the selection committee?

    No. We conveyed to them via email which only me and Pak Agus (KPK Chair Agus Rahardjo) saw. Since three other leaders re-registered themselves for the next term, we decided there could be conflict of interest if they read it.

    Of the proposed names, how many received red ink?

    Many but I forgot the number.


    Read the full interview in Tempo English Magazine