TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - President Joko Widodo has announced he will delay the induction of Police Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan as the next police chief. The president will, however, dismiss Police Chief Gen. Sutarman, although no replacement will be immediately appointed. The deferment is a compromise between two conflicting camps: the politicians, notably Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairperson, Megawati Soekarnoputri, Budi's principal backer as the next police chief and Jokowi's grassroots supporters which reject Budi because he has been indicted for the crime of receiving illegal gratuities.
The decision was made following widespread protests over Jokowi's appointment of Budi Gunawan as the sole candidate for the police top job, overriding public information that his Rp54 billion bank account came from suspicious sources. This is why Budi's nomination triggered sharp protests. Jokowi is seen to be breaking his promise to eradicate corruption. Unlike the way he selected his cabinet ministers, this time around he never asked the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the anti-money laundering Financial Transactions Reporting and Analysis Center (PPATK) to check his candidate's background.
Budi Gunawan's name was among nine nominees submitted by the National Police Commission for the police chief position. Tedjo Edhy Purdijanto, the National Police Commission chairman concurrently the coordinating minister for politics, law and security, claimed that before proposing the nine candidates, he had consulted with a number of sources in the police force, including the Crime Investigation Division. "Based on written testimony, they were all considered to be clean, including Budi Gunawan," said Tedjo.
Last Friday, Tedjo met with Tempo reporters Qaris Tajudin, Heru Triyono and Tika Pramandari for an interview at his office to explain why the government is adamant about appointing Budi as police chief and why the KPK and the PPATK was not consulted. Excerpts:
Why is the National Police Commission so insistent on retiring Gen. Sutarman before his time?
It's regeneration. I myself was dimissed as navy chief of staff a year before my scheduled time. Even Da'i Bachtiar (2001-2005 Police Chief) had three years to go (when he was asked to step down). So, don't make a big deal about Gen. Sutarman still having nine months remaining on the job. In the TNI (Indonesian Military) and the Police Force, it's about loyalty.
On the subject of loyalty, does the President's appointment of Budi Gunawan have anything to do with his close relations to Megawati? He was after all her one-time aide.
That may have been one reason, and that's only human. Take a company boss who must choose between equally qualified candidates to be his deputy. But one of them is closer to him than the other, so he chooses that one because he feels he knows him better.
Why did the Commission nominate nine candidates to replace Sutarman?
We named people who met the criteria after we checked their backgrounds, which we did through the Crime Investigation Division and other police sources. We found them to be qualified.
Do you have any idea why Presdient Joko Widodo chose the one name?
No. What's important is that we submitted nine candidates. It was up to him to make the choice. That's his prerogative. If you look over Budi Gunawan's responses when he was questioned by the House of Representatives (DPR) for his fit-and-proper test, he is qualified to be police chief.
Were there any objections from any member of the Police Commission?
No. We always discuss it together and we would sort the names out, which is how we came up with the nine names. Then we checked and rechecked them, analyzed any additional information on them. We certainly did not go beyond our authority.
There was no pressure to pick one particular candidate?
No. In fact, Budi was in seventh place out of the nine names. We listed them according to rank and age. So, for example, Suhardi Alius (chief of the Crime Investigation Unit) was listed last because he was the youngest.
Reportedly, Surya Paloh gave his support to Badrodin Haiti (the current deputy chief who was named acting police chief).
Do you ever watch boxing matches? You don't really know the boxers, right? But we have our preferences. It's the same with football, for example in a match between Persib and Persebaya, I would back Persebaya because I lived for a long time in Surabaya. It's normal to back the one you know best.
Of the nine names, who would you support?
None. Even if I did have a favorite, I don't have the right to make that choice.
Actually, how much do you know about Budi Gunawan's alleged fat bank account?
The Police have declared his account to be reasonable. We must believe that. Otherwise, which organization could we trust? Which organization is credible, which has the right to make assessments? (*)
Read the full interview in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine