TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Polemics are back again at Trunojoyo, headquarters of the National Police Force. The situation is not unlike the tense situation leading to the 2001 incident, when President Abdurrahman Wahid forced the swearing-in of Police Comr. Gen. Chaerudin Ismail as the police chief without the approval of the House of Representatives (DPR) and without a baton-handover ceremony, signifying a transfer of the command chain. Recently, Police Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti was appointed acting national police chief, replacing Gen. Sutarman, also without the usual rituals signalling a change in the chain of command. "Actually, the presidential decree is not about his appointment as the acting police chief, but as the current deputy police chief to carry out the duties of the chief," explained Badrodin.
Badrodin's appointment went ahead because President Joko Widodo postponed the appointment of Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan as the police chief. The decision was taken after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) indicted Budi Gunawan for bribery and accepting illegal gratification, when he was chief of the human resources division at the National Police Headquarters between 2003 and 2006.
Today Badrodin faces two major challenges. The first is the internal consolidation of the police force, which is currently in a state of chaos, and secondly, to stand by his colleague, Budi Gunawan, presently involved in a criminal indictment. There are concerns that the current situation could lead to a recurrence of the 'lizard versus crocodile' case, when the police accused the KPK of committing a crime. A kind of tit-for-tat situation.
In an interview with the Tempo team in his office at the police headquarters last week, Badrodin claimed to be clean and that his bank account contained nothing questionable. "The crime investigation division declared my accounts to be legitimate," asserted Badrodin.
Just a week into his new position, Badrodin appeared exhausted. "This is hard for me. I can rarely take a break. I go to bed at about 2am and I'm up by 4am. I would rather be posted at Poso," said Badrodin.
Your appointment as the acting police chief was reportedly at the behest of National Democrat (NasDem) Party Chairman Surya Paloh.
I wouldn't know. That's what happens when you have a sponsor. The National Police Commission's nominees are those who have two years to go before retirement. I retire next year.
Have you met Surya Paloh lately?
I met him recently at the inaugural ceremony of the Presidential Advisory Council (Watimpres), but never had any special meeting with him.
You don't seem to be as well-connected as Budi Gunawan, who is close to big-time politicians like Megawati Soekarnoputri, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairperson. Which politicians are you close to?
I'm close to God (laughing). Five times a day I connect with God. I don't even connect as frequently with my wife.
You don't feel outshone by a subordinate who has the support of the president and the chairperson of a big political party?
What's there to worry about? This is good. I can put it to good use, like when you're short on the budget. What's wrong with that?
Are the police upset over what is going on politically?
We don't know the background to what's happening. Certainly, the appointment of the police chief is the president's prerogative. Pak Tarman (former Police Chief Gen. Sutarman) had already been summoned by the president and told that he would be replaced. Then he was offered an ambassadorial post. But Pak Tarman chose instead to be a farmer.
What is your actual status, acting police chief or what?
In my position as deputy police chief, I carry out the police chief's duties when he is unavailable. That's routine. So, I could have done my job even without the presidential decree (No. 4/2015). However, in order to dispel any misunderstanding and doubts, that decree was issued. The contents just say that the deputy police chief is to carry out the duties and authority of the police chief. It's not an appointment.
So you're not the acting chief?
In fact, an acting officer, according to the Law on the Police, would not have his duties laid out as extensively. So, to prevent confusion, the presidential decree ensures that my tasks would be the same as those of the police chief.
In other words, a reinforced deputy police chief?
Yes. When a police chief is ill or on a long assignment, automatically his deputy takes over. My authority so far has been 100 percent the same as a police chief.
But you became the police chief without the usual baton-handover ceremony and you have not received your four stars?
That's true, just like with Pak Chaerudin (Ismail). Even without the baton, I can still take over the police chief's duties, such as deploying troops. I can do that even with my three stars.
How long does the decree say your tenure would be?
Until a permanent new police chief is installed. If, for example, tomorrow Pak Budi (Gunawan) is installed, my task would end and I would go back to being a deputy police chief again.
When did you first know about the new position?
On January 16, it was a Friday. The previous day, I took part in a discussion on how to proceed, whether to appoint an acting chief without the DPR's approval or find another way. We thought of a middle road, and that was not to use the word 'acting' and dismiss the old police chief, in line with Law No. 2/2002 on the Police Force.
It was a discussion between you and who else?
It wasn't really a discussion, it was a response to a question by the president and vice president. Pak Budi Gunawan was present.
What is the root of the problem in appointing the new police chief?
Actually, the problem is tied to politics and to the law. For sure, the political aspect of it is linked to vested interests, whereas legally, there are many assumptions which have led to polemics.
So, what is the usual process in nominating a police chief?
According to the law, it is the Police Commission's task to recommend [names], review promotions and dismiss police officers. The police chief can be invited for advice, or to recommend one or two names. In the past, Pak Timur (Pradopo) and Pak BHD (Bambang Hendarso Danuri) also recommended names, although the president may decide to ignore those recommendations.
Does the Police Policy and Promotions Board (Wanjakti) ever ask to recommend nominees?
The appointment of a police chief does not come from Wanjakti. That's the president's prerogative. Although during the 2013 police election, the Police Board questioned this. But regarding the recent case (Budi Gunawan), there was no such procedure. (*)
Read the full interview in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine