Wednesday, 19 February 2020

Conspiring Against the KPK

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  • TEMPO.CO, JakartaIt's only fitting we give full respect to the investigators of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) who made a tenacious effort to apprehend the Secretary-General of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) Hasto Kristiyanto.

    In the face of waning public faith in the KPK, they bravely fought against all manner of pressure to unearth the case of suspected bribery to General Elections Commission (KPU) commissioner, Wahyu Setiawan, a case which is also dragging Hasto down.

    Wahyu was apprehended on Wednesday, January 8, along with several others, two among them persons close to Hasto. He is suspected of demanding cash totaling Rp900 million to let through Harun Masiku, a PDI-P legislator candidate from the South Sumatra 1 election region, who failed to get elected as a member of the House of Representatives (DPR). The bribe is suspected to have been aimed at smoothening the stepping down of Riezky Aprilia, a DPR member already sworn in, through a replacement mechanism in the KPU. Riezky was appointed by the KPU as DPR member replacing Nazaruddin Kiemas, who died. Riezky obtained the highest number of votes from constituents after Nazar. It is suspected a portion of the money given to the KPU commissioner came from Hasto.

    Yet, efforts to nab Hasto have failed miserably. KPK investigators who tried to get into the compound of the Police Staff College, believed to be Hasto’s hiding place, was barred by several police officers. Officers from the anti-corruption commission were detained and even terrorized by having them go through a urine test – as if they were drug addicts. Neither could the KPK team seal off Hasto’s office in the PDI-P building because they were obstructed by party officers.

    The failure feels even more resounding because several leaders and high ranking KPK officials are refusing to make Hasto a suspect. They are ignoring two initial pieces of evidence adequate enough to declare Hasto a criminal suspect. A member of Hasto’s staff has become a suspect, but a person close to him, considered by KPK Deputy Chief Lili Pintauli Siregar to also have been a mediator and who had enjoyed a portion of the bribery, was released for having been cooperative.

    The leaders of the KPK have obviously smeared their own organization’s face by bowing down to PDI-P leaders. Instead of standing right at the front to defend their team, they blamed their own men for trying to seal off Hasto’s office although the team had violated no procedure. The KPK leaders even gave instruction that no more sealing-off be carried out from now.

    This is unassailable proof of what the public had been leery about, concerning the blemished track record of several KPK leaders, which was made much fuss off during their selection process a few weeks back. Not even one working month since being sworn in on December 20, 2019, already the leaders are sabotaging corruption eradication. It seems difficult to hope the KPK under the present leadership of Firli Bahuri, whose personal track record came under scrutiny, to be capable and willing of dismantling corruption cases involving big names. It is very likely in the days to come, even more, criminals will be deemed untouchable by the law.

    This embarrassing situation is the fruit of systematic and structured undermining of the KPK by the government of Joko Widodo and the DPR. Instead of letting through candidate leaders with integrity, President Jokowi and the DPR selected problematic characters. To add insult to injury, the government and parliament conspired to cull back the KPK’s authority through a revision of the law.

    It is only appropriate the Constitutional Court accept the judicial review suggested by former KPK leaders and anti-graft activists, to support the fight against corruption in the country. Particularly since the Ombudsman of the Republic of Indonesia has declared that there is preliminary evidence to suspect the revision was legally flawed.

    It is arduous to hope the KPK will take steps to revert back the public’s faith in the institution. It is doubtful whether they will investigate this bribery case to the hilt, or take action against those involved. Those parties impeding investigators and researchers will be let off the hook without sanction, and we now know the investigators will be the ones to be faulted.

    As previously suspected, the KPK Supervisory Board does not have leeway to clarify the case. Though made up of persons with sterling track records, the supervisory board was not designed as an active body with powers of execution.

    PDI-P’s excessive protection of Hasto gives an indication the case is not limited to Hasto alone. It has long been susurrated: many political parties seek incomes from shady places, including from bribes from their own members. What often occurs are dowries made to determine candidate regional heads. The corruption around the replacement of a member of parliament such as this case is a new modus now revealed to the public.

    Hampering of KPK officers by party officials can be deduced as a way to protect conduct unbecoming by the party as an organization.

    These murky political party dealings are becoming even shadier and difficult to reveal. What’s so sad is: all this happened in the era of Jokowi, a president who claimed to be a non-party person and who said he never wishes to bow down to party oligarchies.

    Read the Complete Story in this Week's Edition of Tempo English Magazine