The Forgotten Novel
NOVEL Baswedan was one of the topics discussed by President Joko Widodo in a meeting with leaders of his supporting parties at the Seribu Rasa Restaurant in Menteng, Jakarta, last Tuesday night.
To his guests, Jokowi explained that he had ordered National Police Chief General Tito Karnavian to follow up the National Commission on Human Rights’ (Komnas HAM) recommendations in regard to Novel’s case.
“The President explained the formation of a joint fact-finding team for Novel Baswedan,” said United Development Party (PPP) General Chairman Muhammad Romahurmuziy last Tuesday.
Komnas HAM found new facts about the acid attack on Novel in April 2017. The commission had formed a special team to investigate the human rights violation in the attack against the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator in February 2018, after police investigation went into a stalemate. At the end of last year, the team’s investigation concluded and they produced a number of recommendations, including the formation of a joint team to re-investigate the attack.
Even so, the police only formed the team one month later because they had not yet received Komnas HAM’s recommendations. Komnas HAM had attempted to meet with the Police chief to submit their recommendations but could not have an appointment scheduled.
According to National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Muhammad Iqbal, Tito’s schedule was packed for a whole month. “But Pak Tito is very serious [in his intent] to investigate the case,” he said. Recently, Tito delegated National Police Deputy Chief Comsr. Gen. Ari Dono to receive Komnas HAM.
Jokowi summoned Tito after Komnas HAM’s report was received by the police. On January 8, the police formed a joint team with 65 members, made up of 52 National Police personnel, seven experts, and six members of the KPK. “The President gave the team a six-month deadline,” said Romahurmuziy. Hanura Party General Chairman Oesman Sapta Odang confirmed that the discussion indeed took place at the meeting last Tuesday night.
The formation of the joint team is planned to be used as a shield should the contender attack Jokowi using the Novel affair in the presidential-vice-presidential debate last Thursday—nine days after the team was formed. The campaign team held a simulation to anticipate Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno’s potential question about the development of the investigation into Novel’s case, which has been at a standstill for almost two years.
The simulation was designed by a team made up of a number of experts, including law expert Yusril Ihza Mahendra. According to Yusril, Jokowi will have no trouble answering a question about the Novel investigation, especially after the National Police has formed a joint team. Romahurmuziy also said the simulation is meant to “provide an answer if asked, among others [about] the joint team,” he said.
But in the debate last Thursday, neither of the two camps mentioned Novel. Sandiaga had planned to ask the question but Prabowo forbade it. “We wouldn’t want to corner the President,” he said. Romahurmuziy said Jokowi-Ma’ruf, in fact, truly wanted to be asked about Novel. “We’ve prepared for that.”
Komnas HAM member Choirul Anam said in the end the attack on Novel has become a commodity for the elite. The topic flourished before the debate and wilted during the debate. “The impression is that [Novel’s attack] became a temporary political narrative,” said Choirul.
HUSSEIN ABRI DONGORAN, PRAMONO, FIKRI ARIGI