KPK Scandal Brings Demand to Reform Indonesia’s Legal Institutions
Ismira Lutfia, Muninggar Sri Saraswati & Putri Prameshwari
The public will demand that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono personally take the lead in reforming Indonesia’s National Police and Attorney General’s Office in the wake of the KPK-National Police scandal, activists said on Wednesday.
Public trust in both institutions has plummeted following revelations of a plot by the police and state prosecutors against the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
It’s widely accepted among the public that officials within both institutions were attempting to frame KPK deputy chairmen Chandra Hamzah and Bibit Samad Rianto for taking bribes as part of a bid to weaken and eventually kill the anticorruption body.
In his first public statement after establishing an independent team to verify facts in the Chandra and Bibit case on Monday, Yudhoyono said that he had set up the team to improve public trust in the country’s law-enforcement institutions.
“When there is mistrust over the process, we shall take the proper actions to uphold legal supremacy. I think it is the right action. It’s not the first independent team I’ve set up,” he said while opening a meeting at the Presidential Office on Wednesday.
Yudhoyono was previously determined not to be drawn into a conflict that has gripped the nation for months. However, on Monday he changed his mind amid growing public pressure, authorizing the formation of an eight-member team led by presidential adviser Adnan Buyung Nasution.
Teten Masduki, secretary general of Transparency International Indonesia, and Illian Detha Arthasari of Indonesian Corruption Watch, said the recent civil society movement in support of the KPK, in the form of both street protests and online activism, should be seen as more than just a demand to drop charges against Chandra and Bibit.
“The public has had enough of the fact that the legal process is open for sale,” Illian said. “People are genuinely afraid. If the KPK leadership can be framed by the police and prosecutors, what could happen to the common people?”
Yudhoyono will have few other options to improve public trust than leading a sincere and comprehensive reform of both institutions, Teten said.
“He could start by dismissing the police chief and attorney general,” he said, referring to National Police Chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri and Attorney General Hendarman Supandji.
“Both institutions are indeed rotten.”
Yudhoyono previously set up a fact-finding team to look into the 2004 murder of Munir Said Thalib, a leading human rights activist, but its recommendations weren’t implemented. Teten said Yudhoyono could not afford to ignore the newest team’s report.
“He must implement the team’s recommendations. Otherwise, people will think that he set up the team only to silence the public,” he said.
Ikrar Nusa Bhakti, a political expert from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), concurred, saying Yudhoyono must be seen as taking the claims of wrongdoing seriously.
“He must be transparent because people can see now how the government and businesspeople can bend regulations any way they want,” Ikrar said, referring to the recorded telephone conversations that caught Anggodo Widjojo, the brother of fugitive Anggoro Widjojo, plotting against the KPK with officials from the Attorney General’s Office and National Police.