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Jakarta Post

KPK criticized for ‘unprofessional’ university graft sting

  • Moch. Fiqih Prawira Adjie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, May 23, 2020   /   07:34 am
KPK criticized for ‘unprofessional’ university graft sting Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman Firli Bahuri. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested a state university official on Wednesday for allegedly giving illegal holiday bonuses to officials from the Education and Culture Ministry. However, the commission ended up confiscating a relatively small amount of money: US$1,200 and Rp 27.5 million ($1,850). The KPK later announced, “After we questioned some people, we did not find the involvement of state officials, so we transferred the case to the police.”

The operation was the first to be both initiated and executed under the leadership of KPK chairman Firli Bahuri. In early January, the KPK conducted an operation in East Java, but the investigation had been started by KPK leadership before Firli took his current position on Dec. 20, 2019.

In cooperation with the ministry’s Inspectorate General, the KPK arrested Dwi Achmad Noor, the head of staffing at Jakarta National University (UNJ) on Wednesday, reportedly catching him in the act of bribing officials.

KPK law enforcement deputy director Karyoto said in a statement made available on Thursday that UNJ’s rector, Komarudin, had allegedly collected Rp 5 million from each of the university’s departments and institutions through their respective deans. About Rp 55 million was reportedly gathered on Tuesday from eight departments, as well as two research and postgraduate institutions.

The money was meant to be given to Mohammad Sofwan Effendi, the resources director at the ministry’s Higher Education Directorate General, alongside other human resources staff.

“On [Wednesday], Dwi Achmad Noor brought Rp 37 million to the Ministry of Education and Culture and then gave the ministry’s human resources bureau head Rp 5 million, the bureau staffing analyst Rp 2.5 million and Parjono and Tuti – [members of] the ministry’s human resources staff – Rp 1 million each,” Karyoto said.

Read also: KPK shows ‘lack of willingness’ to fight corruption in natural resources sector: Activists

The KPK claimed they found no indication of the involvement of state officials in the case. After questioning several people, including Komarudin, they handed the case over to the police.

Zaenur Rohman, a researcher at the Gadjah Mada University Center for Anti-Corruption Studies (Pukat UGM), questioned the reasoning behind the transfer because Komarudin, a rector of a state university, was, in fact, a state official according to the 1999 Law on Corruption Eradication. The law designates the leaders of state universities and state-owned enterprises as “state officials”.

“If the reason for passing the case over is that there are no state officials involved, it raises questions because it was said that the collection and distribution of money was done at the rector's orders,” Zaenur told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Danang Widoyoko, a researcher at Transparency International Indonesia, said that hastily passing the case over to the police might prevent the KPK from finding other suspects and developing a larger case.

“I’m worried that the police will only focus on the Rp 27.5 million of confiscated money and the giving and receiving parties in the case,” Danang told the Post, adding that those delivering graft money were not usually the core actors.

“It may be troublesome for the KPK to view the whole picture and the fundamental problem of the case,” he said.

Read also: Months in, two of KPK's key graft suspects remain at large

In 2019, Indonesia Corruption Watch said that the now-defunct Research, Technology and Higher Education Ministry had the fourth-highest number of civil servants involved in corruption cases – nine people – just below the Transportation Ministry, the Religious Affairs Ministry and the Public Works and Housing Ministry.

The Directorate General of Higher Education was previously part of the Research, Technology and Higher Education Ministry, before President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo renamed the ministry the Research and Technology Ministry and gave responsibilities for higher education to the Education and Culture Ministry.

Indonesian Anticorruption Community (MAKI) coordinator Boyamin Saiman said the operation was “unprofessional” and lacked adequate planning, adding that the amount of alleged graft money was too little for the KPK to take the case. He said he would file a complaint with the KPK’s supervisory council.

“All information is usually discussed by the KPK and is explored thoroughly and in much detail, from the receipt of public complaints to the decision to make an arrest,” he said. “This arrest was only made to seek attention so that the KPK would be perceived by the public as having done some work.”

Zaenur said the case demonstrated state officials’ bad habit of exchanging gratuities, including holiday bonuses, between colleagues and third parties. “This is a habit that has been happening for a long time, and this case should be a lesson so that the practice of giving gratuities on Idul Fitri, which is clearly a crime, is stopped,” he said.

Minister of Education and Culture Nadiem Makarim said in a statement made available on Friday that he would investigate the case further. He promised to increase supervision to ensure good governance in the ministry.

“Every official in the Ministry of Education and Culture must uphold their integrity and carry out their duties according to regulations and good governance,” he said.