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Jokowi's Role in the Weakening of KPK

Translator

TEMPO

Editor

Laila Afifa

23 December 2023 18:33 WIB

TEMPO.CO, JakartaPresident Jokowi and former KPK Chief Agus Rahardjo are trading denials relating to the handling of the electronic ID card corruption case. This is proof of the weakening of the KPK.

WHEN it comes to weakening the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), President Joko Widodo is an expert. The government and the House of Representatives (DPR) repeatedly tried to revise the KPK Law from 2010, and finally at the end of the President’s first term, these efforts succeeded. After only two weeks of deliberation, the revision to Law No. 30/2002 was passed by the DPR on September 29, 2019, in the face of widespread public opposition.

Since then, the KPK has lost its independence. The anti-graft agency is now under the president, with members of its Supervisory Board selected by the government. And investigators are now civil servants. The nomination of Firli Bahuri for the KPK chairmanship was further proof of this weakening. He is a police general who committed many ethical violations when he was KPK’s Deputy of Enforcement from 2018 to 2019.

The desire to weaken the KPK came from Jokowi himself. He took the view that the KPK was too strong and that it disrupted development. According to him, many programs launched by regional heads ground to a halt because their movements were being monitored by the KPK. At that time, the Commission had just named Aceh Governor Irwandi Yusuf a suspect for embezzlement relating to infrastructure projects using special autonomy funds.

Jokowi’s refusal to maintain the independence of the KPK is important now at the time of the controversy over the statement by 2015-2019 KPK Chairman Agus Rahardjo. In an interview with Kompas TV, Agus said that Jokowi had ordered him to halt the investigation into the bribery case of electronic ID cards (e-KTP) involving DPR Speaker Setya Novanto. Another KPK leader who was in office at the same time as Agus stated that this request arose because Jokowi did not want the investigation to disrupt endeavors to form a coalition with the Golkar Party, which at the time was headed by Setya.

This request from Jokowi proves that the President was acting to weaken the Commission long before the KPK Law was revised. Jokowi was willing to allow corruption to spread for the sake of strengthening the government coalition.

Jokowi’s developmentalism has given rise to a topsy-turvy hypothesis: the more strongly development is protected from thieves, the less steady the wheels of development. Jokowi appears to agree with the political adage that corruption oils the wheels of development.
According to another analysis, the President was giving a sweetener to the DPR so that it agreed with his proposal to draw up a Job Creation Law. This law corrected a number of other regulations, which were seen as so bureaucratic that they hampered investment. Passed by the DPR in October 2020, the Job Creation Law brutally ignored the principles of good governance, including regulations to protect the environment, in the name of development.

In several interviews with the media at the beginning of his second term in 2020, Jokowi said that he would prioritize development through investment, and give a lower priority to the protection of the environment and human rights. The omnibus Job Creation Law was Jokowi’s way of realizing this desire.

In other words, this argument reinforces the fact that Jokowi’s developmentalism is the reason for the weakening of the KPK. Another reason for this is the interests of politicians in the DPR. Over 20 years, the KPK uncovered 344 corruption cases involving members of the DPR—the third highest number after businesspeople and government officials.

Power corrupts, wrote British historian Lord Acton in a letter to an Anglican Bishop in 1887. Therefore, power—in the hands of Jokowi or not—does not like efforts to eradicate corruption. But it is too late now. In the future, restoring the KPK to its former strength will be no easy task.

Moreover, the three presidential candidates for the 2024-2029 term seemingly are only paying lip service to the eradication of corruption. Backed by political parties that have poor track records concerning the eradication of corruption, whoever wins the election next year will not be able to do much. The next president will be hostage to the cost of politics that is dirty and not transparent.

There may be an even sadder result: the elected president quietly thanking Jokowi for paving the way to diminish the anti-corruption movement in Indonesia.

Read the Complete Story in Tempo English Magazine



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