President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said on Friday he would not revoke the controversial amendment to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Law and would instead accelerate the establishment of a team to supervise the country’s antigraft agency.
The President said he had started to look for candidates to fill the supervisory council, which will be established for the first time in accordance with the revised law. The council, which will have the authority to control KPK investigations, is among the law’s most disputed provisions and has led to public protests.
Jokowi said he would handpick the council members without a formal selection process.
"Since this is the first time, it [the council] will not be chosen through a selection committee. But trust me, these people have good credibility,” Jokowi said at the State Palace.
Jokowi said the KPK supervisory council members would be inaugurated, along with the new KPK commissioners, in December.
Jokowi was condemned for allowing the amended KPK Law to pass. It contains long-disputed articles that observers and antigraft activists say will defang the KPK, currently the most powerful corruption-fighting body in the country.
The amendment also requires all KPK employees to be civil servants. This effectively turns it into a government body and requires the KPK to obtain a wiretapping warrant from the supervisory council. It also requires the antigraft body to drop cases whose investigations are not completed within a year and revokes the KPK's independent recruitment of investigators.
After a string of nationwide protests -- most of which were carried out by students -- Jokowi said he would consider using his power to revoke the amendment.
But the protests have faded, and Jokowi sits comfortably in his second term. He has backtracked on his statements.
Jokowi argued that it would not be proper to issue the order, a government regulation in lieu of law (Perppu), while the law is still being reviewed in the Constitutional Court.
A group of antigraft activists have petitioned for a judicial review as another attempt to revoke the controversial articles.
“There is a judicial review process in the courts. Don’t let [the Perppu] overlap with another legal process. I think we should mind our manners,” he said.
A recent study conducted by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) has revealed high public dissatisfaction with the revision to the KPK Law. The study indicated support for a Perppu to revoke the controversial articles.
The survey, based on interviews conducted between Oct. 4 and 5 with 1,010 respondents from across the country, showed that 60.7 percent of those who were aware of the student protests and the KPK Law revision were in support of the rallies. Only 5.9 percent were against the protests, while the remaining 31 percent chose to stay neutral. The remaining declined to answer. (ggq)