The Jakarta Post
House of Representatives Speaker Setya Novanto has managed yet again to show his Houdini abilities, forcing Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators to leave his home empty handed following a five-hour search to arrest him on Wednesday night. But how long can Setya remain on the loose with the KPK not prepared to give up its hunt for the Golkar chairman after issuing an arrest warrant for him?
With the KPK having already banned Setya from traveling overseas in connection with its investigation into his alleged role in the high-profile electronic ID card corruption case, he has no choice but to surrender himself. Otherwise the KPK will declare him a fugitive.
When the KPK named him a suspect for the first time in July he could hide behind medical treatment as an excuse to evade questioning and detention. However, the KPK this time around is well prepared for such stalling tactics.
Aside from the non-stop cyber bullying he and his family have had to endure, the embattled Setya has also seen his political support wane. The longer he remains embroiled in the billion-dollar scandal the more likely his political buddies are to desert him for their own safety.
It appears Setya is filing a judicial review against the 2002 KPK Law as a last resort to protect himself from criminal prosecution, but this will take time and the Constitutional Court may turn down his motion given the fact that corruption is considered an extraordinary crime. In demanding the judicial review, Setya is insisting that the KPK Law is violating the Constitution, which provides lawmakers like him partial immunity, including from prosecution.
Whatever efforts, legal or non-legal, he takes, the graft case will exhaust him, his family, his party, the House and perhaps the whole nation. The public simply wants him, because of the high-ranking position he holds, to show his respect for, rather than contempt of, the law. Ever since the probe into the alleged e-ID card graft began, Setya has used his power to seek every option to resist the enforcement of the law.
For the sake of its own future amid its declining popularity, Golkar can regain public trust and help facilitate the KPK investigation into Setya at the same time. Some, if not many, within the party have realized that their chairman is now a liability, rather than an asset. A number of opinion surveys, which have indicated that Golkar would not make it into the top three if the legislative election was held today, serve as a warning the party should not ignore.
In such a time of crisis, Golkar should take into account the demands from its own cadres to replace Setya with a figure who can lead the party’s revival. Like it or not, Setya is holding the party hostage, despite it being part of the ruling coalition. A change of guard would prove that the party’s guiding norms of achievement, dedication, loyalty and an unblemished record still count.
The bold move would not only help Golkar but also the nation to uphold the supremacy of the law.