TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The postponement of Budi Gunawan's appointment as the next police chief would be a good time for President Joko Widodo to cleanse the police force of its internal rot. He must immediately submit the names of other police chief candidates to the National Police Commission as well as to the anti-money laundering Financial Transactions Reporting and Analysis Center (PPATK) for a thorough background check. This step is important to avoid selecting a candidate with a negative past.
Admittedly, it is difficult to find the perfect police chief. Remember that joke? Only Police Chief Hoegeng, a police statue and a sleeping policeman (traffic speed bump) are really clean. That is why Jokowi must be able to make the right assessment of the other candidates recommended by the Police Commission. It provided the president with a long list of three-star generals, among them Badrodin Haiti (the current deputy police chief), Dwi Priyatno (general oversight inspector), Suhardi Alius (the former crime investigation division chief) and Putut Eko Bayuseno (chairman of the security maintenance board).
Proper due diligence must be carried out on these alternative candidates. The chances of Budi Gunawan, who has been indicted for accepting bribes and illegal gratuities, are now practically zero. There has never been a corruption case that has not gone to court. The term stopping an investigation, which can happen in the police force and the prosecutors' office, does not exist in the KPK's vocabulary.
The KPK should not hesitate to follow up on its indictment of Budi Gunawan, even though the police's own investigation found him not guilty. The charges that the KPK played politics because it indicted Budi three days before his appointment as the next police chief must not become a distraction nor influence the course of Budi's indictment. In fact, the KPK must address these charges by probing into the other senior police officers' backgrounds who made the PPATK's list.
Speeding up the Budi Gunawan case would prevent the police from being led by a problematic general. If that happens, the mandate of the police force will not be effective. The police's commitment to eradicate corruption, as one of its main tasks, will be far from credible. Furthermore, there could be the unwelcome prospect of another conflict between the police and the KPK, as in the 2009 case of the ‘lizard versus the crocodile'.
Jokowi's decision in delaying Budi's appointment not quite dropping him from the list of candidates may not be ideal and may even impress people that it's a decision to please everyone. The House of Representatives (DPR), for one, was given the chance to approve the appointment. Former President Megawati, who strongly backed Budi, was expected to be happy at the outcome and political tensions could be eased.
Jokowi's safe way out should be put to good use by the KPK. The anti-graft commission must work hard to process its case against Budi Gunawan. The people who bribed him must also be probed, including a number of senior police officers suspected of depositing money in Budi's bank account as a ‘prerequisite' to their reassignment to a more lucrative posting.
For the duration of the investigation, the police must be cooperative. There must be no obstructions, such as when the KPK confiscates Budi's assets and the president must ensure the security of the KPK investigators.
During all this legal process, Jokowi must not think, even in desperation, of drafting a presidential decision regarding Budi Gunawan. Such a step would only serve to hurt the people's sense of justice. What would the world say if Indonesia becomes the only nation to select a police chief being investigated by an anti-corruption agency? This would conflict with Jokowi's noble aspirations which he and Jusuf Kalla advocated during their election campaign. They promised that law enforcement would be reformed, free of corruption. This promise is emblazoned as the first of nine precepts known as Nawacita.
Jokowi's negligence in appointing the wrong people to important law enforcement positions should serve as a valuable lesson. His previous blunder was in appointing Prasetyo as attorney general, who is nobody special and whose independence and integrity are in doubt. Budi was fully supported by Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chair Megawati, while Prasetyo was backed by Surya Paloh, chairman of NasDem Party.
The delay in appointing Budi Gunawan must end in his annulment as the next police chief. Only in this way can the public believe in Jokowi's commitment to eradicate corruption. (*)
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