Senior Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan has become the lightning rod for attacks by the antigraft body’s detractors.
Throughout his 12-year tenure at the KPK, he has been a target for verbal and legal and more recently physical attack. In 2012, soon after he managed to wrap up a graft probe against former National Police Traffic Corps chief Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo, an attempt was made to bring criminal charges against him. In September 2017, the Jakarta Police started handling a defamation case filed against Novel by fellow KPK investigator Brig. Gen. Aris Budiman. The complaint was lodged only months after he became the target of an acid attack that left him half blind.
The latest broadside against him is an allegation that he is the leader of a cult-like faction within the KPK, whose work in the fight against graft is motivated by conservative Islamic ideas. Some have called the conservative group within the KPK a “Taliban” faction, after the fundamentalist movement in Afghanistan that has been waging a holy war, or jihad, against the West.
Novel has become easy prey for such an insinuation because he sports a short beard and his penchant for wearing traditional Muslim garb, both often seen as a sign of religious conservatism.
The government appears to have taken the allegation seriously, and the decision to involve the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) and the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT) in the selection process for the next batch of KPK commissioners proves that it is worried about creeping conservatism in the country’s antigraft body. Such suspicions, while exaggerated, could serve as justification to remove certain candidates whom the government dislikes.
But given the fact that the fight against graft appears to have gone nowhere, creeping conservatism should be the least of our concerns. Despite the efforts led by Novel to bring graft charges against high-profile politicians like former Golkar Party chairman Setya Novanto, the country’s record in the war on graft remains abysmal. Indonesia languishes in 89th place of 180 countries and territories surveyed in the latest Corruption Perception Index, with 38 points on a scale of 0 to 100.
With billions of rupiah being siphoned off every year by graft suspects and the perception of a high degree of corruption remaining in the public sector, the fight against graft could not be treated as business as usual and every law enforcement official should double their efforts and find whatever inspiration and moral imperative they can find to help boost their spirit in the difficult fight against graft.
And if it takes a certain religious fervor to energize the fight against corruption, why not? Besides, as the great Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping once said: “it doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white, as long as it can catch mice, it’s a good cat”.Artikel Asli