Lawmakers bicker over the new KPK building controversy
Controversy over the Corruption Eradication Commission’s (KPK) proposal to build a new office building reached new heights on Thursday with some lawmakers beginning to blame each other for opposing the construction plan.
Democratic Party lawmaker Didi Irawadi Syamsuddin — a member of House of Representatives Commission III, overseeing legal affairs and laws, which earlier opposed the KPK’s request for an additional Rp 160 billion (US$16.9 million) to build a new office building — said his faction fully supported the proposal.
“The Democratic Party faction has always agreed to the plan, but the other factions said they needed more time to decide. I say we should proceed with the plan now,” he said.
Didi said, however, that his faction could not make the decision alone and had to uphold the democratic principles within the commission. He said he would lobby the other members to approve the plan.
Martin Hutabarat of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) urged his colleagues on the commission to approve the plan.
“We, lawmakers, have a bad enough image already. Let’s not worsen it by stonewalling the request,” he said, adding that he had not had anything to do with the refusal.
Separately, Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo confirmed that the ministry had prepared funds for the construction, but could not disburse them due to the lack of the House’s endorsement.
“The ministry has allocated Rp 200 billion in a multiyear fund in the state budget. We plan to disburse between Rp 60 billion and Rp 80 billion this year if the lawmakers give their approval,” he said after a House plenary session.
According to State Budget Watch director Ramson Siagian the government had the right to directly disburse the funds without obtaining consent from the House as the latter had approved the plans contained in the 2012 state budget, including the new KPK building, at a plenary session.
Ramson said Agus’ explanation was baseless and that the ministry should immediately give the money to the KPK.
Meanwhile, United Development Party (PPP) lawmaker Ahmad Yani, also a Commission III member, said that even if the funds had been prepared by the Finance Ministry, it would be more economical if the KPK were to seek a vacant building.
He said the Commission III members did not object to the KPK getting a new office, but that did not mean a new building needed to be constructed.
KPK advisory board member, Abdullah Hehamahua, said moving into a vacant building would be as costly as constructing a new one because an “extraordinary” institution such as the KPK needed an establishment that met certain criteria.
“We would still have to reconstruct the vacant building to fulfill our needs,” he added.
The KPK’s deputy chairman, Bambang Widjojanto, said the commission had sought information about state-owned buildings from the State Wealth Management Directorate General at the Finance Ministry and were told no suitable buildings were available.
Ahmad rejected Bambang’s claim, however. According to Ahmad, the KPK could use the building previously occupied by the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) in Thamrin, South Jakarta.
“I have proposed the BPPT building several times in our meetings. It has the space the KPK needs and its facilities are advanced enough to support the KPK’s activities. I don’t see why the KPK cannot use that building now that the BPPT has moved to Serpong,” he told The Jakarta Post.
KPK chairman Abraham Samad said the public had shown their sense of trust in his commission through the increasing public donations.
“This [public donations increase] has motivated us to maintain the KPK as an institution that belongs to the public,” he said.
On the same day, Bambang, along with representatives from a civil society coalition, said they would manage the donations in an accountable and transparent manner.
Speaking on behalf of the coalition, former attorney general Arman Abdul Rahman Saleh said they would use the public donations for other purposes if the lawmakers changed their minds and decided to release the state budget funds. (fzm/tas)