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Call to action: Activists hold up banners reading “Where has the President gone? Save the KPK, Save Indonesia” at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Jakarta on Sunday. They demanded that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono take a stand in the conflict between the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the National Police. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)
The most recent attempt by the police to storm the Corruption Eradication Commission’s (KPK) headquarters may be linked to KPK plans to investigate evidence of other corruption scandals at the National Police Traffic Corps (Korlantas).
The police’s attempt to arrest Comr. Novel Baswedan, a police office seconded to the commission as an investigator, at KPK headquarters in South Jakarta late on Friday has been called a “warning” intended to deter the commission from pursuing other cases involving the police.
In late July, the KPK raided Korlantas headquarters for evidence of graft surrounding the procurement of driving simulators worth around Rp 200 billion (US$21 million), naming former Korlantas chief Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo as a suspect in its probe.
“The raid was not only for the simulator case. A lot of evidence for other bigger graft cases with huge impact was also collected. The simulator case is just the beginning,” said an official at the Presidential Palace who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.
“That is where Novel wanted to expand his investigation. It’s no surprise that he was targeted. It will send a message to other police officers seconded to the KPK that they will meet a fate similar to Novel’s if they pursue these cases,” the palace official said.
Among the cases, according to the official, were those related to the provision of public services, such collecting bribes to issue vehicle transfer documents, driver’s licenses and motor-vehicle registration documents.
Applicants for these services have, until now, been able to pay bribes to expedite the processing of their applications.
These bribes are allegedly pooled by cooperatives managed by police officers to be distributed to individual officers, to fund the operations of local police forces and to bribe lawmakers to remain supportive of the police.
Commenting on the bribes, criminologist Sr. Comr. (ret.) Bambang Widodo Umar said, “Some high-ranking generals are wary that if the KPK expands its investigation, particularly into Korlantas and the cooperatives, many of them will be dragged into it. That’s why they’re fighting back by any means necessary to undermine the KPK.”
Meanwhile, the palace official said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was aware of the KPK’s plan to expand its investigations — and the impact that might have on the police. “However, his stance remains unclear.”
National Police spokesmen Insp. Gen. Suhardi Alius and Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar turned down The Jakarta Post’s request for a statement.
The latest in a long series of showdowns between the police and the KPK began late on Friday, when dozens of police officers tried to enter the KPK headquarters to arrest Novel for shooting robbery suspects in 2004.
The police withdrew from the KPK on Friday only after Deputy Law and Human Rights Minister Denny Indrayana and prominent anticorruption activists came to stop the arrest.
The incident inspired another “Save the KPK” campaign, including a rally on Sunday morning at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, where activists condemned Yudhoyono for his silence in the dispute.
State Secretary Sudi Silalahi said on Sunday that the President has been “closely monitoring” the case and had instructed National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo to meet with the KPK’s leaders on Sunday.
“However, the meeting could not be held as many of the KPK’s leaders were out of town. The President insisted that Timur have the meeting on Monday,” Sudi said. “The President will not comment on the issue until he has received reports on the outcome of the meeting.”
Lawmakers on the House of Representatives’ Commission III overseeing legal affairs had no immediate plans to summon the National Police’s leaders following the incident on Friday, according to Commission III chairman Gede Pasek Suardika.
In a press conference convened late on Sunday at the KPK headquarters, commission spokesman Johan Budi said that the President, through Sudi, had given assurances to the KPK that he would step into to resolve the standoff between the agency and police.
Johan added that Yudhoyono had told the KPK that he expected that the National Police would not make any maneuvers to undermine the relationship between the commission and the police. (riz)
Bagus BT. Saragih contributed reporting