No More Dispute, Please
The poor performance of the Law Enforcement Division has triggered internal conflict within the KPK. The corruption eradication agenda could be under threat.
The recent restlessness among employees at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is no longer simply a ripple. If it does not immediately subside, it is not impossible that the ripple could turn into a wave that could wreck the KPK from the inside. To save it from external attacks, the anti-corruption body should be solid internally.
The ripples began to spread at the end of March, when 114 employees signed a petition to the KPK leadership. Initiated by non-police investigators in the KPK Enforcement Division, support for the petition continued to grow. Now more than 700 people, including staff from other divisions, have expressed their support.
The petition calls into question a very serious issue: somebody within the KPK is delaying investigations into corruption, particularly those involving important people. There are indications that information about a number of sting operations has leaked in advance, permits for confiscations and travel bans have been made more difficult to obtain, and that the code of ethics has been arbitrarily enforced.
Although this petition does not name the person behind the accusations, sources in the KPK have said that the unease of staff was caused by the poor leadership of KPK Enforcement Deputy Insp. Gen. Firli. After the former chief of the East Nusa Tenggara police took his position a year ago, a number of problems appeared.
It is not only KPK employees that have questioned Firli’s actions. The Civil Society Anti-Corruption Coalition complained about Firli in May 2018 after he played tennis with the then governor of West Nusa Tenggara Tuan Guru Bajang Zainul Majdi, given that at the time, investigators at the KPK Enforcement Division were investigating alleged corruption over the divestment of Newmont Nusa Tenggara, which involved Zainul.
The situation became more complicated when KPK investigators and former investigators from the police launched a counterattack. They questioned the appointment of 21 non-police investigators last month. As well as questioning the legality of the appointments, they claimed that the appointment of internal KPK investigators was an endeavor to cleanse the organization of police investigators. This accusation is baseless because according to a Constitutional Court ruling, the KPK has the authority to appoint its own investigators besides those posted from the police.
Whatever the cause, the internal dispute within the KPK must not be allowed to continue, especially given that it began at the Enforcement Division, which is responsible for research, investigation, and prosecution of corruption cases. Within the KPK, the Enforcement Division is like the heart of all of the organization’s activities. Disruption to the heart will affect every system in the body.
If a solution is not found soon, the internal dispute will add to the mutual suspicion and doubt between employees and the KPK leadership. Moreover, a protracted conflict will demoralize all KPK staff. Eventually, the KPK could be weakened and no longer effective. This is exactly what the enemies of the fight against corruption in this country want to see.
In order to end this crisis, the KPK leadership should not hesitate to implement the recommendations of their own internal investigators. The body has already investigated the case and discovered evidence of violations of the code of ethics. As soon as the recommendations reach the desk of the leadership, Firli should immediately be sent back to where he came—the National Police Headquarters.
This kind of resolute stance could lead to efforts to criminalize the KPK leadership. The history of enforcing corruption laws in Indonesia shows that this type of risk has materialized several times, but this must not lead to a retreat. As long as they act in the interests of eradicating corruption, the people will be behind the KPK leadership.