President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono has nominated Comr. Gen. Sutarman as the sole candidate for the top post at the National Police in one of the most crucial decisions ahead of the 2014 election.
The House of Representatives confirmed Sutarman's sole candidacy on Friday just after they received the President's recommendation letter. Sutarman will undergo a fit-and-proper-test at the House to receive its endorsement before being inaugurated as the new police chief, replacing Gen. Timur Pradopo.
Sutarman, who is the current National Police criminal investigations division chief, is widely seen as a neutral figure who would remain impartial in the lead up to the upcoming legislative and presidential elections.
'The President only considered one name: Sutarman,' House deputy speaker Priyo Budi Santoso said, adding that the House's Commission III overseeing legal affairs would later hold a fit-and-proper test for him.
Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha refused to confirm whether Sutarman was the sole candidate, but hinted that the proposed candidate 'still had enough time before retirement.'
The 55-year-old former West Java Police chief was appointed as Jakarta Police chief in October 2010, replacing Timur. Sutarman started his current post as chief detective in July 2011.
Julian also declined to elaborate on the reason behind the President's choice, which many criticized as premature, only saying that the decision was in line with the 2002 Police Law and that Yudhoyono 'had considered candidates selected by the National Police Commission [Kompolnas] and Timur.'
Timur is set to retire next year, but Yudhoyono said that he wanted the police to be fully prepared to safeguard the upcoming elections and that it would not be the best decision to have a new police chief immediately beforehand.
It appeared that the lawmakers also felt secure about the neutrality of Sutarman, whom they deemed as having progressive ideas, ahead of the polls.
'His track record is clear. He was never associated with politics, or at least no indication of political ties,' Priyo said. 'Safeguarding the election processes will be his main task.'
Antigraft watchdogs, however, are skeptical that Sutarman can root out the corruption culture in the force, given the fact that he openly opposed the KPK investigation into Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo, a defendant in a graft case surrounding the Rp 144 billion vehicle simulator procurement project.
His 2012 wealth report shows that Sutarman had Rp 5.34 billion worth of assets and savings totaling US$24,194, a slight increase from Rp 5.31 billion in 2011. He also recorded $24,175 savings in 2011.
Several other potential candidates for the National Police chief are Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Putut Eko Bayuseno, a former adjutant to Yudhoyono, National Narcotics Agency ( BNN ) chief Comr. Gen. Anang Iskandar and the force's education division chief Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan.
Police observer Bambang Widodo Umar said a police chief should not side with any political parties. 'Sutarman is a calm person; I hope he can be independent,' he said.
Comr. Gen. Sutarman
Born: Sukoharjo, Central Java, Oct. 5, 1957
Education: Police Academy, graduated 1981
Current Position: National Police criminal investigations division ( Bareskrim ) chief ( 2011-present )
2010-2011 Jakarta Police chief
2010 West Java Police Chief
2008 National Police Advance School for Education and Training Officers head
2005 Riau Islands province chief
2004 Surabaya Police chief
2003 East Java Police criminal investigation chief
2001 Palembang Police chief
2000 Former adjutant to president Abdurrahman Wahid
Last report: 2012
Wealth: Rp 5.34b plus US$24,194