The Jakarta Post
The public has long put its trust in the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), partly because of its impeccable integrity that has led to the arrest of powerful people who were caught in the act of committing graft. The controversy surrounding the ongoing selection of new KPK leaders, however, gives a glimpse of a threat to the commission’s outstanding brand image.
Such concerns arose as soon as the committee selecting the KPK leaders was formed and have intensified now that the selection is moving closer to the finale. The government-sanctioned committee announced last week a list of the remaining 20 candidates in contention for the five KPK leadership seats up for grabs, who unfortunately include certain candidates whose commitment to fighting corruption remains questionable.
More than 1,700 people have signed an online petition posted on change.orgasking President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to drop “the problematic candidates” from the race. Civil society groups are behind the demand, which may represent the voice of many among the silent majority.
Without identifying the persons, KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah has confirmed that candidates with checkered pasts were among the last 20 people standing. The KPK, he said, had informed the committee of the poor track records of the candidates before the profile assessment stage, but to no avail.
The KPK’s negative list included those known to have accepted gratuities, refused to submit wealth reports, obstructed justice and violated ethics norms while serving as KPK officials. A selection committee member once jumped to the defense of certain candidates who refused to submit wealth reports, unlike other candidates, saying it was mandatory only if they were elected.
Those who made the cut were KPK deputy chief Alexander Marwata, KPK employee Sujarnako, advisor to the Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration Minister Jimmy Muhamad Rifai Gani, four police generals, including National Police deputy detective chief Insp. Gen. Antam Novambar and South Sumatra Police chief Insp. Gen. Firli Bahuri, and three state prosecutors.
The remaining candidates underwent medical tests on Monday and will face a panel comprising the selection committee and two anticorruption experts. Committee chief Yenti Garnasih said the interviews, which will last an hour for each candidate, would be broadcast live to let the public learn more about the candidates and their thoughts about the future campaign against graft.
While the committee’s intention to uphold transparency deserves appreciation, its failure to respond to the KPK’s input regarding some of the candidates’ unconvincing anticorruption track records surely has raised many eyebrows. Not to mention allegations that the committee had favored certain candidates over others.
It would be too much to ask Jokowi to intervene in the ongoing process as it was he who entrusted the committee to select the best KPK leaders in the first place. We can only expect his discretion when the committee submits the names of the final 10 candidates to him.
In the remaining stages, the committee’s wisdom will define the future of corruption eradication in the country and the KPK’s long-held reputation as the most trusted state institution.