For the first time in the history of Indonesia’s anti-corruption movement, we are witnessing the unbridled, audacious lack of shame displayed by the foes of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). This movement, filled with MPs whose names are linked in a number of graft cases, is coming on strong with the kind of boldness driven by a sink-or-swim attitude: a phenomenon that should be closely observed by historians of modern Indonesia.
It first appeared as a sporadic and unconsolidated force on May 30 when the House of Representatives (DPR) formed what they named as the inquiry right committee against the KPK. The group of lawmakers first set out to freeze KPK’s budget after the agency refused to allow the DPR to question Miryam Haryani, a witness in the electronic ID card (e-KTP) graft case. Later, as the name of DPR Speaker Setyo Novanto turned up in the case, the committee’s efforts to muffle the KPK became even more virulent.
At the end of its tenure on September 28, the committee will present its ‘findings’ to the President as a set of recommendations. The set reportedly consists of 11 recommendations including incredulous suggestions such as to strip the KPK of the authority to investigate and prosecute.
How the committee came up with the findings is also no less ludicrous. They took an excursion to the Bandung prison to seek ‘feedback’ from graft convicts whose status had been legally enforced. It causes one to wonder why the committee did not launch protests against the justice and human rights ministry which enforced the corruptors’ status as well.
Their pretext for revoking KPK’s authority to investigate and prosecute is that the police and the prosecution offices already have the said authority. The ‘honorable’ members of the committee seem to be suffering a pang of amnesia, forgetting that the anti-corruption agency was formed in the first place because the existing law enforcement agencies were incapable of fighting corruption.
‘Recommendation’ according to a number of Indonesian and Malay dictionaries means ‘advice’ and ‘acknowledgement’, something that does not have a legally binding authority. In other words, the President can use these recommendations at his own discretion without any legal consequences, just as he did with the Pelindo inquiry committee’s recommendations where he did not comply with one of the recommendations, which is to dismiss Rini Soemarno, the state-owned enterprises minister.
Therefore, it was not amusing when Jokowi jokingly said he would not interfere in the business between the inquiry committee and the KPK, citing not wanting to ‘intervene’ as an excuse. It sounded even odder when the President pointed out that the committee was part of a legislative body while the KPK was an independent agency, without further clarifying his own position as a ‘presidential institution’.
Now is the time to ask President Jokowi to stop making jokes for a moment. He has two legacies to choose: as a president who is consistent in his fight against corrupters, the public enemy, or as the first post-reform era president who was cowered into halting the anti-corruption drive in this country, which is still overrun with thieves of public money.