Constitutional Court Chief Mahfud Weighs In as KPK Building Fund Grows
Rizky Amelia & Rahmat
The Corruption Eradication Commission has picked up another big-name supporter in its campaign for a new headquarters, with Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD giving his blessing to the public donation drive.
Donations continue to pour in from the public to help pay for a new KPK building, with Mahfud calling the movement a show of moral support for the antigraft body.
“This fund-raising is a moral movement and a peaceful protest on the part of the people against the government’s indifference toward the KPK,” Mahfud said in Semarang on Friday as quoted by state-run news agency Antara.
Mahfud also gave his legal blessing to the donations. He agreed with former Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh that the money being donated by the public for the building fund could not be considered illegal gratifications.
“The finance minister has said that the donations for the KPK are a grant of the kind the country has received for a long time,” said Mahfud, a former National Awakening Party (PKB). “The Aceh people, for instance, donated Seulawah aircraft to the government.”
Although he supports the donation movement, Mahfud said he was worried no one was overseeing the drive to ensure the money ended up where it was intended.
“The fund-raising drive needs to be handled by people with credibility and accountability,” he said. “We don’t want anyone to use this as a tool to amass wealth for themselves.”
A small post was opened in front of the antigraft body’s South Jakarta headquarters on Friday to support the fund-raising drive. There was a table, two chairs, some anti-corruption posters and a glass case for donations.
According to beritasatu.com, a check for Rp 5 million ($535) and a brown envelope stuffed with money were visible inside the case.
Former Industry Minister Fahmi Idris also donated a check for Rp 5 million.
“I support the construction of a new building and this is [a way to show] my disappointment with the House of Representatives,” Fahmi said.
“This check is from me personally,” he said, adding that he would also ask members of his family to make donations.
Sosiologist Thamrin Amal Tamagola donated Rp 100,000, Fahmi Idris’s daughter, Fahira Idris, donated Rp 5 million and political analyst Fadjroel Rachman added Rp 225,700.
Illian Deta Arta Sari, a coordinator for the coalition behind the KPK building donation drive, said they would not send people out into the street to raise money.
“If you see anyone on the street, they’re not with us, but of course we can’t forbid them [from asking for donations],” he said. “We appreciate the people’s efforts to support and raise funds but we hope that they contact the coalition for KPK donations [and do it through us].”
The coalition, he said, might be a better option to prevent fraudulent collectors from stealing money.
KPK deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto first floated the idea of raising money for the building through public donations. The idea prompted a group of integrity activists to seek public donations for the popular antigraft body, raising more than Rp 50 million in less than two days.
The KPK has been looking for a bigger headquarters to accommodate its more than 650 employees. The lack of space in the current building, which was meant to accommodate 350 people, has forced the KPK to rent space at the Ombudsman Commission building and the State Secretariat office.
House Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, did not approve the KPK’s request for money for a new building four years ago, suggesting the commission ask the government for an unused building.
In Makassar, South Sulawesi, antigraft activists and students vowed to collect one million bricks as a symbol of support for the KPK.
“The House’s rejection of a budget for a new building is irrational,” said Anwar Lasape, the coordinator of the movement. “It seems like they just want to disrupt the KPK’s efforts to fight corruption.”