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Jusuf Kalla: Legal Institutions Should not Become Monsters
Vice President Jusuf Kalla. Tempo/Aditia Noviansyah
Friday, 06 February, 2015 | 11:18 WIB
Jusuf Kalla: Legal Institutions Should not Become Monsters

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - As usual, Vice-President Jusuf-Kalla is the optimistic one. He gave the Joko Widodo-Jusuf Kalla government high marks for its performance during the the first quarter of the year: 8 for handling the economy, 7 for the ministers' performance and 7 for law enforcement.

Kalla is also not worried about Jokowi's declining popularity following the submission to the House of Representatives (DPR) the nomination for police chief of Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan, who was indicted for bribery and illegal gratification. "Everywhere, a president will make an unpopular decision during the first year," Kalla told Tempo at his official residence in Central Jakarta, last week.

Sometime during the interview, Natiional Democratic (NasDem) Party chairman Surya Paloh popped in. "It's part of the continuous communication, both among those in the coalition and outside of it," said Kalla.


How do you assess the performance of the cabinet today?

Professionaly, out of the 34 ministers, only four were experienced in governing and who understand governance. Ten are former legislators, eight are bureaucrats, four are academics and three are business people. They work according to their backgrounds. Susi (Pudjiastuti) and Amran (Sulaiman) work fast, but sometimes they forget procedure. Former legislators tend to refer everything to the law, and academics would analyze everything first.


How would you rate them?

From the progress of their work. Pak Jokowi is always monitoring them. That's what I do, too. The target is the benchmark. For example, can self-sufficiency in sugar be achieved in three years time? That means the Agriculture Minister must increase production by 100 tons per hectare. But that also means we must build new sugar factories. They work as a team because ministers cannot act alone. To be sure, not everything can be publicized.


Ministers with which backgrounds achieve their targets?

We can't evaluate that yet, but from their measures, those involved in electricity and agriculture are doing okay.


What are their main problems?

In the past, ministers or director-generals found it hard to make decisions because they were scared of doing wrong that, wrong this. They were afraid of the KPK (Corruption Eradication Commission) or the Attorney Generals Office (AGO). So who made the decisions? Those from Echelon III. Ministers instructed the director-generals to analyze the problem and provide the directors with decisions. Then the directors added a note, 'to analyze it according to existing regulations'. All this would go back up through an office memo. Young bureaucrats tend to reject this way, particularly when they disagreed with their minister's or the president's decisions. So it went round and round in circles.


To what extent should law enforcement tolerate 'mistakes' so they don't deter or block development programs, as you just described?

Hong Kong's experience has been to forget the past. Previously, people bought gifts, and it was considered normal, nothing wrong. Today, that would be a violation. How can you apply the new law to an old tradition? Unlikely, right? We must agree to law enforcement, but not allow law enforcement institutions to become fearsome monsters.


So, how would that work technically speaking?

Take the example of Yance, the regent of Indramayu. I defended him and spoke to the attorney-general on his behalf. "Don't arrest this man because in the past, I ordered him to immediately release some land. Let him go." The attorney general said he was regarded as having incurred Rp4 billion in losses to the state. Yet, because of his quickness in releasing that land, he managed to save trillions of rupiah in subsidies when a 600-megawatt electricity generation plant was built on that land. If the project hadn't been completed, how much more in losses would there have been?


Did the attorney-general agree with that?

Yes, no. It's too far gone for the case.


In the case of Budi Gunawan, who was indicted for corruption, do you have the same view?

The case being applied to Budi happened 10 years ago. How come it re-surfaced just before he was about to be installed? Initially, he was investigated for Rp150 million.


But weren't there other unrealistic transactions?

That came later.


Didn't the KPK give him a bad mark when his name came up in the list of potential cabinet ministers?

I don't know about that. No-one does.


Is it true Budi Gunawan is not budging because it's Megawati's wish?

No. I'm sure many people were consulted on this, including the National Police Commission. As Pak Jokowi said, "I am certain that I select people I know."


Know in what way?

Well, all aides become like family members. My aide for five years comes to me whenever he has a problem. We invite them to dinner with us, just like SBY's aide. They all go to him if something bothers them. This is understandable, given that they spend half their lives with us for at least five years.


Is it true Budi Gunawan acted as the intermediary in pairing you with Jokowi for the presidency?

No. I knew Budi Gunawan when he was Ibu Mega's aide, because I was one of her ministers. Perhaps she sought information on the background of someone to be a vice-presidential candidate. I know, because Pak Jokowi is Javanese, he needed a non-Javanese partner; because he's a nationalist, he needed someone close to Islam, right? So I fit the bill, not because of Budi Gunawan. (*)

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