No Surprise from KPK
After the law was revised, criminal acts and violations of ethics by KPK staff, investigators and leaders were predicted from the outset. Rotten at the tail, body and head.
THE Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is in tatters. Given a mandate by law to eradicate corruption, its staff have been instead practicing deceit. Not all of them, of course. But given the wide range of those responsible—from ordinary staff to investigators and the KPK leaderships—it is difficult to hope that the Commission will have the courage to deal with corruptors.
The latest news is the arrest of investigator Police Adj. Comr. Stepanus Robin Pattuju for taking a Rp1.3-billion bribe to halt an investigation. The bribe was paid by the mayor of Tanjungbalai, North Sumatra, M. Syahrial. In this instance, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives (DPR) Azis Syamsuddin is said to have been the middleman. The revelation of the ‘partnership’ between Azis and Syahrial (both Golkar Party politicians) and Robin proves the truth of the long-held rumor that investigators collude with politicians. This cooperation provides investigators with the opportunity to be selective in the way they handle cases.
Two weeks before the reports of the Robin case emerged, the KPK was embarrassed by I Gede Ary Suryantara. The member of staff of the evidence management directorate was found to have stolen evidence in the form of 1.9 kilograms of gold. In September 2020, KPK Chairman Firly Bahuri was sanctioned by the Oversight Council for ethical violations because of his use of a helicopter costing Rp20 million per hour for a private journey in South Sumatra.
Rotten in the head, also rotten in the body and the tail. In the Robin case, the promise by the KPK chairman that his institution would not tolerate transgressions sounds like empty words. Selected in line with the enthusiasm to emasculate the KPK—along with the revision of the law regulating the agency—Firly seems to know what he has to do: his job is to allow the Commission to weaken but every now and again to achieve a minor success so that it does not appear too feeble. It is fair to suspect that in the Robin case, the investigator will receive a trivial punishment and be returned to the police, the organization he came from.
The presence of investigators from the National Police in the KPK is one of the causes of the problem. Investigators from the police tend to be loyal to their institution because after their assignment at the anti-graft agency is over, that is where they will return. Because of this dual loyalty, it is difficult for such police officers to act professionally, especially when investigating senior police personnel.
The return of Sr. Adj. Comr Roland Ronaldy and Comr. Harun to the police in October 2017 is one example. The IndonesiaLeaks channel revealed damage to evidence from the bribery case relating to the Animal Husbandry Law. In a closed-circuit television (CCTV) recording released by IndonesiaLeaks, the two investigators are seen in the room containing evidence. The footage shows the two men tearing pages out of bankbooks and removing the names of senior police officials who allegedly received funds from suspect Basuki Hariman.
Although in 2016 the Constitutional Court increased the authority of the KPK to recruit investigators from outside the National Police and the Attorney General’s Office, the Commission leadership of course pretends it does not know about this. They are fully aware that independent investigators will make the KPK itself independent—something they do not want to happen. By recruiting investigators from the police, it is easier for the Commission leadership to discharge its noble duty: to weaken the KPK without making it look too feeble.
The loss of public confidence in the KPK worries many people—although trust is not something that troubles the Commission leadership. The revision to the KPK Law in 2019 was aimed at making the Commission powerless. And we still remember that it was President Joko Widodo himself that said that the KPK was not a super body and that its actions to date had led to public officials not having the courage to take decisions. The selection of the KPK leadership went ahead in line with the desire to weaken the agency.
Therefore, what has been happening with the KPK recently should not surprise anyone. Like the sun rising in the east, it was all predictable from the outset.