Resist Together Dipublikasikan 14.27, 18/09/2019 • Laila Afifa
Inspector General Firli Bahuri is named as new KPK Chairman, September 13, 2019. TEMPO/M Taufan Rengganis
There is no other recourse: all elements of civil society need to move together to stand for the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Without a massive protest from the public, the plan by President Joko Widodo and several members of the House of Representatives (DPR) to whittle the independence and authority of the KPK will go unobstructed.

The move by KPK Chair Agus Rahardjo and his two deputies, Laode Muhammad Syarif and Saut Situmorang, of giving back their anti-corruption mandate to the President needs to be given full support. This act underscored their frustration concerning the minimal support Jokowi has been giving the KPK lately.

The most concrete evidence of this is the President’s move approving the DPR plan to revise Law No. 30/2002 concerning the KPK, with nary a single discussion with the Commission’s leaders. From the outset, the revision process appeared to be conducted covertly and hurriedly. Yet, nothing pressing had occurred which would have forced deliberations to be carried out in the last remaining days of the present parliament’s term of office. It is only natural the public suspects a hidden agenda to disarm the KPK.

Whatever President Joko Widodo’s public explanation on the matter, the public is now smarter when digesting the truth. Moreover, the facts are plain simple: the Palace condones the initiative to supervise KPK by an institution representing the President, approves the notion that investigations may be halted and the status of suspect be annulled, and approves the idea for all KPK staffers becoming civil servants bowing down to the strictures of government bureaucracy. Like it or not, the three approvals will end the existence of the KPK as we have known it.

The selection of Firli Bahuri, former deputy of KPK, who several times violated the commission’s ethics, as the new leader of the anti-corruption commission in a session at the DPR’s Law Commission last week has added to our apprehension. The South Sumatra Police Chief is blatant in his disrespect of KPK’s ethics code, which in truth was drawn up to guarantee there would be no conflicts of interest in the fight against corruption.

Firli’s previous track record makes KPK’s future cause for real concern. What can be expected from a law enforcer who blithely endows special treatment to state officials and political party leaders? This is not noting all the corruption cases deliberately hampered or postponed while Firli was at the KPK. Firli’s selection cannot happened without President Joko Widodo’s approval, who gives the mandate and decides the composition of the selection panel. It is not an overstatement, then, if the public judges the President as having fallen into a trap set by the oligarchy surrounding him. All activists who supported Jokowi and are now in the Palace circles have failed miserably to safeguard the reform agenda within the heart of the executive body.

This change of heart and commitment on Jokowi’s part is most obvious when we compare him with himself in the first days of becoming president five years ago. Then, even when selecting his cabinet ministers, Jokowi went into consultation with the KPK. He had the guts to cross off the names of problematic ministers. Jokowi’s trust in the KPK at the time gave the public real hope.

These are now only memory. President Joko Widodo has blatantly ignored the public’s aspirations and has put more trust in the whisperings of his circles. The President’s decision regarding the KPK was obviously made based on a fallacious idea concerning the institution’s performance and integrity. For example, the President believes that KPK conducts sting operations based on a stilted cherry-picking process, conducts a selection of investigators in a haphazard manner, and protects certain people for political gain. In fact, to reinvestigate the erroneous information he receives, the President need only ask for impartial data from competent sources.

With accurate information, Jokowi would obviously have no need to repeatedly ask the KPK to tittivate their preventive measures nor blame the KPK for Indonesia’s still unimproved position in the global perception index regarding corruption. The depressing state of corruption in Indonesia is galvanized by the weakness of the judicial system and the lousy accountability of political party funding. The solution is not in diminishing KPK’s independence and authority, rather in boosting the scale of the commission’s reach.

Now the ball is in the hands of the multitudes. Civil society needs to push the entire citizenry to clamour to convey their aspirations to parliament. It is no longer appropriate to dichotomize the public based on the category of being a Jokowi or a Prabowo Subianto supporter – the two presidential candidates in the 2019 General Election. Jokowi has won the election. Criticizing the President by no means connotes supporting Prabowo. Refusing to undermine KPK does not mean supporting religious radicalism – an idiotic slander often leveled at the Commission.

The scores of millions of citizens who voted for Jokowi in the recent General Election have to join in giving their voice. They had a role in Jokowi’s victory and have a right for their say to be listened to.

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