Indonesian lawmakers 'weaken' anti-graft body

Parliament approves bill that will weaken efforts to nab corrupt politicians, critics say
Indonesian lawmakers 'weaken' anti-graft body

Investigators from Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) present evidence to the media in an anti-graft case in Lampung, Sumatra in this January 2019 file photo. (Photo courtesy of KPK)

 

Indonesia’s House of Representatives has approved a proposed amendment to a law governing the country’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), despite fierce opposition from various groups, who say it will weaken the anti-graft body.

Lawmakers agreed to the changes during a plenary session on Sept. 17, only 13 days after the bill was presented to parliament.

The new law includes the establishment, by the president, of a supervisory council to oversee the KPK and a requirement for the KPK to obtain wiretapping warrants from the council.

“The whole process — since the first discussion until the approval of the new law — was rushed,” Donal Fariz, Political Corruption Division coordinator at the Jakarta-based Indonesia Corruption Watch, told ucanews.org.

“Everyone shares the same interest — to weaken the KPK or paralyze it,” he said.

He warned that the country might face a dire situation where “the KPK cannot target corruption cases in the political sphere where the number of which is staggering.”

The KPK has arrested at least 255 national and regional lawmakers since it was set up in 2002, along with at least 130 governors, regents, and mayors. It has even gone after cabinet ministers.

“It will happen. It will be easier for policymakers to ‘rob’ the state’s coffers,” he said.

Father Agustinus Heri Wibowo, secretary of the Indonesian bishops’ Commission for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said corruption eradication efforts must go on.

“We oppose everything which hinders such efforts. But we support all efforts taken to strengthen the corruption eradication movement. In terms of the law, a law should serve as a state tool to bring justice to the people,” he told  ucanews.org.

“Wait and see. If the new law is counterproductive and there is a constitutional basis for a judicial review, we will file a judicial review over it. But if it goes well, we will support it,” he said.

Earlier, the Catholic priest joined other religious leaders in issuing a statement saying that the establishment of a supervisory council would mean the KPK would no longer be an independent body.

Dozens of KPK staff walked out of their office in Jakarta with “yellow flags” in their hands not long after the new law was approved to express their dismay.

In Jakarta, a yellow flag symbolizes death.

The head of the KPK staff union, Yudi Purnomo, said eradicating corruption had taken a giant leap backward.

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“Corrupt people will laugh at the KPK about their newfound freedom after [more than] 16 years of living in fear due KPK operations against them,” news portal Kompas.com quoted him as saying.

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