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A Plot to Kill KPK  
The Chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission [KPK], Agus Rahardjo (Left--white shirt) and Vice Chairman of KPK, Saut Situmorang. Image: TEMPO/Eko Siswono Toyudho
Thursday, 20 July, 2017 | 14:14 WIB
A Plot to Kill KPK  

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - It is plain to see that the establishment of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Right-of-Inquiry Special Committee at the House of Representatives is an endeavor to weaken the commission. The committee members should abandon the rhetoric that they are trying to improve the KPK. The leaders of political parties should also put a stop to the pretense: seemingly criticizing the work of the special committee, or pansus in Indonesian, but allowing their members to join it.

An investigation by this magazine has discovered that the pansus was established with a three-layered aim: dissolve the KPK, paralyze it by reducing its powers, or at the very least remove the main investigators who have been at the vanguard of corruption investigations. These evil intentions must all be opposed.

The chronology of the establishment of the pansus shows this wrongful intent. It began with the investigation into the electronic ID cards megascandal, during which the KPK found that illegal funds had been paid to members of the House of Representatives (DPR). The funding for this huge project needed the approval of the House. To ensure this was granted, the project managers paid bribes to legislators. Big names were thought to have taken these bribes, including DPR speaker Setya Novanto, DPR and Golkar Party member, and now pansus chairman, Agun Gunandjar Sudarsa and Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly.

The KPK partly based its investigation on the testimony of Miryam S. Haryani, a member of House Commission II—which deals with issues such as governance—from the Hanura Party. She is thought to have been the person at the center of the bribery. In court, she subsequently retracted her testimony regarding the payments. She told her DPR colleagues that she had been pressured by the investigators. She then told the investigators that DPR members had forced her to retract her testimony.

The right-of-inquiry pansus was established with the initial aim of forcing the KPK to publish the recordings of Miryam's questioning. But after its establishment was agreed in April 28, it started questioning the powers of the KPK, including its management of finances and investigations. The drama then descended into absurdity: the pansus held audiences with people convicted of corruption to try and discover errors made by the KPK when these individuals were interrogated—a move that is a clear insult to the courts.

There are signs of police involvement in the plan to destroy the KPK. Two police generals are thought to have promised to deploy officers who worked at the KPK to look for mistakes made by the commission. The testimony of Miko Panji Tirtayasa—who claims he was forced by investigators to give false testimony—will also be used to attack the KPK. Miko was the middleman in the bribes paid to Constitutional Court Chairman Akil Mochtar. The KPK has repeatedly denied Miko's accusations.

There is no other choice: KPK must be saved. The Constitutional Court should immediately hear the legal challenge to the legality of the right of inquiry filed by KPK staff. The court should study the opinion that the right of inquiry can only be used with executive bodies. The court should remember its 2006 ruling stating that KPK is an independent institution free of the influence of any authority. This ruling was issued when the authority of KPK was questioned by corruption suspect Mulyana W. Kusumah. The police should thwart these efforts to weaken the KPK. Officers suspected of involvement must be punished. The actions of a few individuals could wreck the ongoing effort to improve the image of the police.

President Joko Widodo should not just sit on his hands. The statement of concern issued through a spokesman was not nearly enough to show the level of concern from a head of government. The President's opposition to the dissolution of the KPK does not seem to have been accompanied by any real action.

The President may well view the movement to defend the KPK as a disturbance that disrupts his national development plan. But he should realize that without real efforts to stamp out corruption, development will be slow. Granted, Jokowi does not have the authority to stop the right of inquiry, but remember: he can force the parties backing his administration to not go ahead with it.

It is these very parties that are now pushing for the right of inquiry. Jokowi must immediately stop the move by these parties, unless he wants to be accused of agreeing with the weakening of the KPK.

(*)

 



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