The week in review: Nobody is above the law
Paper Edition | Page: 4
Since the David and Goliath, “gecko versus crocodile”, standoff between the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the National Police three years ago, most of the public had resigned itself to the fact that the anti-graft body would never have the guts to act against alleged fraudulent practices involving the police.
But Tuesday night’s raid on the National Police Traffic Corps building proved the doubters wrong. Despite resistance which lasted 10 hours, KPK investigators confiscated the boxes of documents they need to unveil corruption related to the procurement of vehicle simulators worth nearly Rp 200 billion (US$22 million). More strikingly the KPK named former head of the corps Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo a suspect.
The KPK moves were unprecedented. Never before had the KPK stormed into the police headquarters, incriminated an active-duty police general or named a suspect without prior questioning. The last initiative, however, has sparked a legal debate and prompted Djoko, through his lawyers, to challenge it in court.
The National Police’s resistance is therefore counter-productive as it will only reinforce the public’s suspicions that the force is trying to protect Djoko in the name of the spirit of the corps because otherwise many other officers, including Djoko’s superiors, may be implicated in the case. As part of the law enforcement establishment, however, the police are not above the law.
To avoid a recurrence of the KPK-police open confrontation, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto was quick to ask the two institutions to avoid a clash, but it is feared that the police’s decision to launch their own investigation into the case may renew the conflict between them.
The police investigators have named five suspects, including Djoko’s former deputy Brig. Gen. Didik Purnomo, in connection with the case. While the move appears to demonstrate the police’s intentions in combating corruption within their own force, it will in turn restrict the KPK’s investigation into the alleged fraud.
Many have expressed hopes that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as the direct superior of the National Police chief, will order the police investigators to assist and allow the KPK to handle the case to avoid overlapping. The public has witnessed the police’s lack-luster efforts in unveiling previous high-profile graft cases involving high-ranking officers. In 2010 the National Police cleared two brigadier generals in an extortion case centering on junior tax officer Gayus Halomoan Tambunan, but slapped disciplinary sanctions on them, and later refuted as baseless the allegations that a number of police generals had enriched themselves through illegal means as indicated by their “fat bank accounts”.
In fact the public has long perceived the police as a corrupt institution as witnessed by the lifestyles of officers that do not match their status. How could a middle-ranking cop explain his teenager son’s possession of a luxury car like Harrier, or a non-commissioned officer who often renews his car?
Bribery involving the police force frequently takes place on the street as happens when traffic officers accept, or sometimes demand, “settlement money” from motorists who prefer not to be ticketed for traffic violations. It has also involved a three-star general who received a Nissan X-Trail car related to a probe into bank fraud and the three middle-ranking cops who extorted money from taxman Gayus in exchange for
Meanwhile infighting, albeit below the surface, also seems to be dragging on within the Cabinet over the Sunda Strait Bridge construction project linking Java and Sumatra, following Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo’s request for revision of a presidential regulation that grants special rights to the project initiator to match offers made by other bidders and the right of the project developer to manage two economic-zones to be established in Banten and Lampung.
With the dispute remaining unbridgeable, the prospects for the infrastructure project, which may cost between US$20 billion and $30 billion, hang in the balance.
As a compromise the project initiator, PT Graha Banten Lampung Sejahtera (GBLS) which is controlled by businessman Tommy Winata, has offered the central government the opportunity to acquire a majority stake in the company, provided that the presidential regulation remains unchanged.
Agus made more headlines this week when the Constitutional Court in a split decision ruled that the Finance Ministry-controlled State Investment Agency (PIP) was not authorized to acquire a 7 percent share of gold miner PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara and that future bids to buy foreign companies’ stakes as part of divestment require the consent of the House of Representatives.
Of five justices who voted against the government, three are former House politicians, including court chief Mahfud MD. Political odor has shrouded the case, particularly because a joint venture between a West Nusa Tenggara government-owned company and PT Multicapital, a business unit of the Bakrie Group owned by Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie, was also bidding for the shares to increase its current stake of 24 percent.
A mixture of good and bad news came from London. Male weightlifters Eko Yuli Irawan and Triyatno assured Indonesia a place in the Olympic Games medals table after their laborious efforts earned them a bronze and a silver medal respectively.
Indonesia’s celebrations were short-lived, however, as the world badminton body disqualified the women’s doubles team of Liliyana Natsir and Greysia Polii, along with three other pairs from China and South Korea, for deliberately throwing their matches.
— Dwi Atmanta