The Jakarta Post
Despite a barrage of attacks, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has displayed its fortitude, thanks, in part, to public support. Indeed the antigraft body has consistently led public opinion surveys measuring public faith in our state institutions.
It is the full backing of the public at large, and the media alike, that has oftentimes spared the KPK from the attempts of either politicians of the House of Representatives or fellow law enforcers in the National Police to weaken, if not dissolve, the commission.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s pledge to resist any effort to undermine the KPK was another morale booster for the commission.
The attacks of yesteryear on the KPK ranged from moves to criminalize its leaders to initiatives to amend Law No. 30/2002 on the KPK, with the goal of disarming the commission’s wiretapping and prosecuting powers. Now, while these methods stand, assaults on the KPK have turned personal, as in the acid attack and later defamation accusations filed against its iconic investigator Novel Baswedan.
The political bullying toward the KPK has become increasingly systematic, as evident by the ongoing House inquiry into the commission. The House’s special inquiry committee has exploited the investigation, delving into the KPK’s flaws. It will be no surprise if the committee prescribes an overhaul of the KPK’s work mechanisms and, hence, the KPK Law, when it reveals the inquiry findings at the end of this month.
That the KPK has remained unperturbed by the bombardments is a testament to its resilience. Its corruption eradication measures have continued with a series of arrests of public officials.
The KPK has not lacked steam to spread the anticorruption virus either, through its efforts to reach out to government institutions, regional administrations and state-owned enterprises where corruption is seen as rampant.
The KPK has also approached top executives of political parties, who hold power over their representatives in the House. The KPK has deemed its move necessary because almost one-third of all graft cases it has investigated have implicated politicians. After starting with the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), KPK leaders on Wednesday met with Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and other party top brass.
Many may doubt the efficacy of the move given the political parties’ endless attempts to paralyze the KPK. The KPK has given the parties a rare opportunity to change, or else the antigraft body may get tougher with them.
Yet its actions against politicians should remain free from temptations to politicize graft cases. It is this absence of political motive that has earned the KPK its overwhelming public support.