TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - A week after he was sworn in as human resources assistant to the national police chief, Insp.Gen. Arief Sulistyanto took the oath of the job to vet middle-ranking officers and select police recruits. For the first time in the history of the Bhayangkara Corps (Police Force), they were asked to swear not to commit corruption, collusion and nepotism. Arief implemented this routine at every recruitment and selection of police officers. "We are limited in how we can properly monitor human character," said Arief, 51, who was appointed to his new job by Police Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian, last February 14.
Although some of his associates may consider that particular step to be a cliche, Arief himself believes it is effective. He no longer gets reports of third party 'referrals'. He said the Police Chief wanted a police force that was professional, modern and trusted. That objective can only be achieved if its personnel are well trained and managed. "It would be useless if the police were provided with modern equipment and a big budget, but the personnel were inadequate and unable to think progressively," said Arief. "That could lead to chaos."
The police chief appointed Arief, a colleague from the same graduating class of 1987, because of his performance when he was West Kalimantan police chief from 2014 to 2016. Besides managing to arrest big time fugitive corruptor Budiono Tan, he jailed mid-level officers involved in a Rp6.5 billion corruption case.
Last week, Arief met with Tempo reporters Setri Yasra, Sapto Yunus, Reza Maulana and Raymundus Rikang for a special interview. Follow-up questions were answered by telephone a few days later.
Why did you start your reform program by taking the oath of the police selection committee?
I want to involve God. Our capacity to monitor human beings is limited. For example, the examiner is by himself with the recruit when he undergoes his health test. Anything can happen. By swearing (first), they remember there's a third party watching, and that is God, making them hesitate to do anything improper. This is not a new idea. I did it in West Kalimantan and the result was effective. I have asked the police chief to apply this method at other police precincts.
But don't all police members take the oath when they are sworn in?
Many of them who have taken the oath violated (the law). Human beings also have a tendency to forget, so they need a new shock treatment. I would like to penetrate their sense of spiritualism. They swore to God, so if there's a violation, they will be accountable in the hereafter.
In this world, what would be the punishment for a crime?
The punishment would be in line with the crime, whether it's something that adds or reduces the value of something. Both the one who gives the bribe and receives it will be indicted for a crime. If the perpetrator is a member of the police, there would be additional disciplinary and ethical sanctions.
What about the oversight system?
There is internal oversight by the General Oversight Inspectorate, Regional Oversight Inspectorate and the Professional and Security Division. We also cooperate with the Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), which monitors corruption in the provinces through their networks. Violations, sooner or later, will be evident. For example, good health results that actually cover up the truth will be found out during the training. That can be traced right at the start.
Normally, the police are reluctant to work with non-government organizations (NGOs). Why work with the ICW?
Not this police. I often have discussions with my NGO friends. They are part of the oversight component in society and the police also need monitoring. The bosses also don't mind my working with anti-corruption NGOs.
Will you involve other institutions, like the Center for Financial Reporting and Analysis (PPATK)?
The PPATK has its own system to detect the accounts of government officials. If, in the process of recruitment, my account swells up, alarm bells will ring at the PPATK. As a law enforcement officer, I am the PEP (politically exposed person) of the PPATK.
Is it true that new recruits must pay money to enter the police force?
People claim they must pay to become a police officer, and to pay when they seek a specific position. I'm confused because I've never done it. And I cannot prove a bribery if I don't nab them in action.
What about some kind of payment in order to get a strategic position?
Those are just rumors. From my experience, a position is not a personal intention. It's an appointment.
During a hearing at the House of Representatives (DPR), the police chief admitted that collusion and nepotism can be found during the recruitment process, and that career development is not based on capability and competence alone.
I don't know about that. I'm just ensuring that bribery will not happen during my watch. (*)
Read the full interview in this week’s edition of Tempo English Magazine