House ‘United’ in Rejecting KPK Budget
Markus Junianto Sihaloho& Rizky Amelia
All nine parties at the House of Representatives have rejected the Corruption Eradication Commission’s plan to build a new office building, a senior legislator revealed on Monday.
Azis Syamsuddin, deputy chairman of House Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, said he had received formal notification from each party at the House about the Rp 166 billion ($17.7 million) budget proposed by the antigraft agency, known as the KPK.
“All nine parties proposed coordinating with the Finance Ministry on optimizing the use of the existing [KPK] building,” Azis said.
The announcement means that no political parties are supporting the KPK’s plan to build new facilities, including the ruling Democratic Party, which boasted of its antigraft drive during the 2009 legislative election and claimed it backed the KPK’s request.
The KPK has been arguing that its existing office in Kuningan, South Jakarta, can no longer house its 700 employees. The KPK also plans to expand its own detention facilities and recruit more staff to handle the many corruption cases it currently handles.
Azis admitted that several legislators had expressed their support for the KPK’s plan but added that the parties’ official stances suggested otherwise.
“According to [House] mechanism, each party’s views must be expressed in writing. So as far as the House commission leaders are concerned, the written stances serve as the basis [for the next step],” he said.
The House has been stalling deliberation for the KPK’s budget request since 2008, which activists and analysts believe is an attempt to undermine the KPK’s success in probing corruption cases that involve current and former legislators.
The protracted deliberation process at the House has prompted massive outrage not only from antigraft activists but also from ordinary citizens, who have started collecting money for the KPK project.
On Monday, a woman by the name of Rosalia Indah, from Solo, Central Java, donated iron bars for the KPK. The bars arrived at the KPK office in a truck.
Illian Deta Artasari, an activist with Indonesia Corruption Watch, which is coordinating the drive to support the KPK, said the donor wanted the bars to be used to build jail cells for the new KPK building.
“This is the first of its kind,” Illian said.
The movement has generated Rp 132.5 million in donations as of Monday afternoon, the ICW activist said on her twitter account, @illiandeta.
Although still Rp 165.9 billion short, the drive has become a national movement, with students and activists from across the nation collecting donations and busking on the streets. In Makassar, students even collected bricks for the KPK’s project.
Bambang Widjojanto, a KPK deputy chairman, said his office had not yet decided whether to accept the money.
“The KPK is grateful for the public’s participation,” he said recently. “But [we] have to analyze, and consider government and expert opinions on how to manage public donations.”