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Jakarta Post

Drastic action needed to save KPK amid controversies, lackluster performance: Activists

  • Moch. Fiqih Prawira Adjie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, July 10, 2020   /   08:33 am
Drastic action needed to save KPK amid controversies, lackluster performance: Activists Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman Firli Bahuri (center) speaks during a press briefing on the arrest of former PT Dirgantara Indonesia president director Budi Santoso at the KPK headquarters in Jakarta on June 12. (Courtesy of/KPK)

Moch. Fiqih Prawira Adjie

Antigraft activists have called for Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman Firli Bahuri to step down from his position as part of "drastic measures" to save the agency and the fight against graft in Indonesia amid controversies and what they claim to be a lackluster performance by the agency.

Former KPK commissioner Bambang Widjojanto urged for new commissioners amid declining public trust in the agency.

“Can we still trust the KPK leaders? If not, we can use this momentum to rebound to save the KPK,” he said in a discussion held by Indonesia Corruption Watch on Wednesday.

KPK chairman Firli Bahuri was recently under fire for his alleged "hedonistic lifestyle" after he was known to take an expensive helicopter ride to his hometown in Baturaja, South Sumatra on a personal trip last month. The Indonesian Anti-Corruption Community (MAKI) had filed Firli’s alleged ethics violation with the agency’s Supervisory Council, which later questioned him over the report.

Read also: Activists slam KPK for discussing raise for leaders amid declining public faith

Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) researcher Kurnia Ramadhana urged Firli to step down from his position as the latter had been at the center of the controversies.

This added to the controversies surrounding the KPK under Firli, including reduced efforts to crack down on graft cases in place of focusing on preventing corruption and meetings between leaders and state organizers that have sparked outcry from activists over the fear of compromising the antigraft agency’s integrity.

Critics of the current commissioner's performance also came following attempts to defang the KPK, most notably by stripping the antigraft agency of most of its powers with a repudiated revision to the KPK Law passed last year. The move had eroded public trust in the previously doted-upon KPK, as seen from several public surveys.

“If the public no longer believes in the KPK [because of the Firli controversy], it is better for him to resign as the head of the KPK, but I think it will be difficult because asking him to resign from his position as a police officer has been difficult as well,” Kurnia said, referring to Firli’s refusal to resign from the National Police despite concerns of a conflict of interest.

Kurnia noted that People's Consultative Assembly Decree No. 6/2001 on national ethics stipulated that state officials who violated the political and governing ethics, including being honest and modest, should step down from their position.

Gadjah Mada University Center for Anticorruption Studies (Pukat UGM) director Zainal Arifin Mochtar also lambasted the supervisory board’s sluggish and secretive handling of the alleged ethical violation reported by the public.

He noted that the supervisory board only announced it had summoned Firli for questioning without disclosing whether or not Firli had been found to have committed ethical violations.

Read also: Supervisory council questions KPK chairman over alleged ethics violation

Additionally, the activists said the board had been quiet in responding to the other ethical violation reports.

Zainal suggested that the public resort to other institutions, such as the Indonesian Ombudsman or the Civil Servants Commission, to report other alleged ethical violations.

Alternatively, he said the government needed to establish a new body to fight graft to make the KPK obsolete, noting how the KPK Law revision, which also established the supervisory body, was causing the poor performance of the antigraft agency.

“If needed, we can ask whoever the president is in 2024 to establish a new KPK, [...] because we have to seek other ways to breathe life back into the antigraft agency,” he said during the discussion.

KPK spokesperson for law enforcement Ali Fikri did not immediately respond to The Jakarta Post’s inquiries on activists’ calls for Firli to step down from his position. But he brushed off the critics saying the Supervisory Council had carried out clarification procedures and that the process was still ongoing.