President Joko Widodo should not in the least be ambivalent about the House of Representatives’ (DPR) plan to use its right of inquiry to investigate the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). His indifferent remark that the right of inquiry was the DPR’s prerogative seems to suggest the President is backpedaling on his previous call to strengthen the KPK.
As head of the state, President Widodo should realize that the DPR’s inquiry can ultimately render the anti-graft agency impotent. If he is serious about eradicating corruption, instead of standing by silently, the President should go the distance to protect the KPK from the reckless and unlawful onslaught from the House.
As many as 135 legal experts from various universities concluded that the right of inquiry is flawed legally as the establishment of the committee did not conform to Law No. 17/2014 on the People’s Consultative Assembly, House of Representatives, Regional Representative Council and the Regional People’s Representative Council Representatives (MD3). Clause 2 of Article 201 of the law clearly stipulates that the committee should be made up of representatives from all the factions in the DPR. As happened, only representatives from seven of the 10 factions participated in the inaugural meeting that eventually saw the election of the committee’s chair.
The DPR also broke the MD3 law when it approved the decision to use the right at its plenary meeting at the end of April neither by acclamation nor by vote. By striking the gavel amid a wave of interruptions from members, Fahri Hamzah, the DPR’s deputy speaker who chaired that meeting, unilaterally endorsed the right without the consent of all of the House’s members.
The right of inquiry also lacks substance as the KPK has not committed any violation. If the aim is to access the investigation record of Miryam Haryani, a DPR member embroiled in the electronic ID card (e-KTP) corruption scandal, then the DPR’s intention should be scrutinized. After all, such records of evidence of a case can only be opened by the court. It appears the politicians in Senayan are frantically trying to ‘retaliate’ against the KPK for pursuing to unravel the scandal dubbed the biggest political corruption to date.
Agun Gunandjar’s election as head of the inquiry right committee also raised suspicions. Being indicted alongside 37 lawmakers in the e-KTP’s bribery scandal by the anti-corruption court, the Golkar politician is clearly unqualified to lead the probe against the KPK given the potential conflict of interest.
The right of inquiry by the DPR, which has long been trying to revise anti-graft law No. 30/2002, can ultimately weaken the KPK as the revision seeks to remove special powers vested in the anti-graft institution, such as their right to conduct a wire-tap.
President Jokowi must maintain a firm stance and strive harder to save the KPK. He can use his influence with the pro-government parties to nullify the right of inquiry or at least to prevent the DPR from using it to undermine the KPK. Former president SBY once took such a step when the KPK came under attack.
The President’s assertiveness in this case is crucial in determining the KPK’s fate. The state will descend into chaos if an institution like the DPR is allowed to subvert the anti-corruption agency. It is the President’s duty to prevent this and to ensure the rule of law is upheld.