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Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
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KPK under threat amid high-profile graft

  • Safrin La Batu and Margareth S. Aritonang

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Tue, March 14, 2017 | 07:33 am
KPK under threat amid high-profile graft Persistent: Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman Agus Rahardjo (center, wearing a batik shirt) receives a t’shirt emblazoned with a message of support for the anti-graft body from representatives of Student Executive Boards (BEM) from universities across Greater Jakarta and Banten in a rally in Jakarta on March 9. (Antara/Indrianto Eko Suwarso)

A plan to alter the powers of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is lurking behind a high-profile corruption case, raising concerns that efforts to weaken the antigraft body will weaken the country’s fight against corruption.

The House of Representatives has been conducting workshops at several universities after disseminating information on the planned revision.

Mounting pressure from the public and anticorruption activists halted the deliberation of the amendment of the 2002 KPK Law last year.

However, the House apparently had something up its sleeves as it had been conducting workshops at several universities as an initial step of formal discussions on the proposed law revision. The revision is not among 49 priority bills to be discussed this year by the House and government.

The House’s expert body, tasked with studying a bill before being discussed, held the workshops at Andalas University in West Sumatra and National University in Jakarta. It plans to hold two more workshops at the University of North Sumatra and Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta by the end of the month.

House deputy speaker Agus Hermanto of the Democratic Party said there was no ill-intent posed by the workshops, as the House held the events to assess whether people supported an amendment to the law.

He also denied the revision had anything to do with the e-ID graft case currently be heard at the Jakarta Corruption Court. The first hearing of the trial last week revealed not only the alleged detailed scheme arranged by lawmakers to plunder the state budget but also several big names allegedly involved in the case that caused Rp 2.3 trillion (US$172 million) in state loses.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo agreed in February last year with then House speaker Ade Komaruddin to postpone discussions on the proposed revision of the law on account of widespread protests across the country. The bill itself had been raised by lawmakers since 2015.

The proposed revisions of the law included provisions considered to be aimed at weakening the KPK’s power. They include: the formation of a KPK supervisory body, the revocation of the agency’s sole right to wiretap, restrictions on hiring independent investigators and requirements to drop a case.

Last year, seven factions backing the government, including the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), supported the revision, with three factions, the Gerindra Party, the Democratic Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) having opposed it.

The KPK has lambasted the House for its efforts to promote a revision that would curb the agency’s power in combating corruption.

“We do not need the amendment. The KPK can do its job with the authorities stated in the prevailing law. And we use those authorities to handle [corruption] cases, including the recent e-ID case,” KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah said on Monday.

He said the provisions in the bill would wane the KPK’s efforts to eradicate rampant corruption in the country.

“If the bill becomes a law, the KPK will no longer be capable of carrying out stings.”

The revision plan has been opposed by a number of civil society organizations, including the Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), which recently published a study of the bill in which it found that it would hamper anticorruption efforts in Indonesia.

Some observers have also suggested that the House focus on discussing other bills deemed more crucial and urgent. Of the 51 priority bills listed last year, the House only finished discussing 10 of them. The latest global corruption report by Transparency International Indonesia (TII) released last week listed the House as the institution judged by Indonesians to be the most corrupt. (mrc)