Indonesia: Criminalizing the graft fighters

Last Thursday two commissioners of the Corruption Eradication Committee (KPK), Chandra M. Hamzah and Bibit Samad Rianto, were arrested for abusing their powers and accepting bribes.

In response to the arrest of the KPK officials, President Yudhoyono said that the arrest is not extrordinary and that he will not intervene with the work of the National Police (Polri).

Yusro, wrote an article [id] in Politikana that highlights an odd argument made by Inspector General Dikdik Mulyana Arif Mansur, the Deputy in Chief of the Criminal Division of the Indonesian National Police:

Alasan penahanan antara lain karena ancaman hukuman atas pelanggaran hukum kedua petinggi KPK nonaktif itu di atas 5 tahun selain itu, ya, klasik. Polri khawatir, Bibit dan Chandra akan melarikan diri, menghilangkan barang bukti, dan mengulangi tindak pidana yang sama, sebagaimana tercantum dalam KUHAP.

Tapi yang lebih mengejutkan, adalah alasan lainnya yaitu: Bibit dan Chandra bisa jumpa pers. “Setidak-tidaknya faktanya sekarang kami kesulitan karena sudah dihakimi dengan cerita-cerita dan tuduhan kriminalisasi. Tersangka bisa jumpa pers, itu indikasi dia bisa mempengaruhi opini,” ujar Dikdik.

The reasons of their arrest are, among others, because the two suspended KPK commissioners are charged with more than 5 years jail term, and the rest is classic – the National Police was worried that Bibit and Chandra will escape, dissipate evidences, and repeat the same crime, (reasons) as written in Criminal Law.

However, the more surprising excuse was: (If they're free) Bibit and Chandra can hold press conferences. “We're now in fact being prosecuted through (public) rumors and incriminating accusations. These suspects can hold press conferences, that indicates that they can influence public opinion,” said Dikdik.

The chronology of Bibit-Chandra's arrest, which appeared on, suggests that the two non active commissioners were framed because they were leading an investigation that could involve one of Polri's big wigs.

23 JuniI 2009
KPK menyatakan Direktur PT Masaro Radiokom Anggoro Widjojo ditetapkan sebagai tersangka korupsi pengadaan alat komunikasi terpadu Departemen Kehutanan pada 2007.

30 Juni 2009
Kepala Badan Reserse Kriminal Kepolisian RI Susno Duadji, yang sedang menangani kasus Bank Century, menyatakan teleponnya disadap. Belakangan, KPK mengatakan memang sedang menyelidiki dugaan suap kepada petinggi kepolisian berinisial SD dalam kaitan dengan kasus Bank Century.

10 Juli 2009
Susno menemui Anggoro, yang jadi buron KPK, di Singapura.

23 June 2009

KPK declared Anggoro Widjojo, the director of Masaro Radiocom, Ltd. as a corruption suspect in the communication device procurement for the Ministry of Forestry back in 2007.

30 June 2009

Head of Criminal Division of Indonesian National Police Rusno Duadji, who was handling the case of Bank Century at that time, claimed that his phone call was intercepted. Afterwards, KPK admitted that it was investigating a bribery case against one of the national police's executives with the initials SD, who's linked to the Century case.

10 July 2009
Rusno met Anggoro, the KPK's suspect, in Singapore.

To many Indonesian officials, KPK is a strong institution that could change the course of the traditional system. There are high hopes that KPK could be the master solution to a systematic corruption eradication.

Rob Baiton, who blogs at RAB Experience, said that the president's decision not to interfere with the case is rather bizarre as the case unfolds:

The fact that the president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono or SBY, gave a press conference indicating that he would not be interfering in the process. Strange because he has already imposed himself on the process when he issued an interim law to appoint three new, albeit temporary, commissioners to the KPK. So, to say he would not interfere seems a little strange.

A few days before the arrest, a transcript of a wiretapped phone call, between the corruption suspects and other unnamed persons, circulated on the internet. At one point the name of the president and two other first echelon officials were mentioned. The phone conversation suggests the arrest was staged and there's a plan to bring down the KPK as a graft fighting institution.

Baiton elaborates:

The president is also smarting because a transcript of an alleged wiretap highlighting that the police and the office of the attorney general conspired to frame Chandra and Bibit has surfaced. Why is he smarting? Maybe because his name came up as being aware of the frame.

Although the president has said he will not interfere in the process, he has nevertheless instructed the Chief of Police to take all necessary steps to uncover the wiretapper and bring them to justice. Sounds a little like closing the barn door once the horse has bolted. But, Mr. President, it is time to clean this mess up, isn't it?

As closure, Baiton highlighted what could Yudhoyono's legacy be:

Ultimately, these shenanigans are going to be a “legacy crusher” for SBY. He will be remembered as the president that talked a good game on anti-corruption but could never deliver the goods. In fact, he will be remembered for presiding over the demise of one of the few success stories in the fight against corruption in Indonesia.

On Sunday, President Yudhoyono invited four experts, one from Transparency International Indonesia and the rest are professors from big universities, to discuss about KPK situation and options.

Brett McGuire, an Intellectual Property Right expert based in Jakarta  wonders why the president consulted these four experts before consulting the Constitutional Court or the Administrative Court, blogged on Spruiked:

The fact that the President consulted with three universities is telling. It shows just how complex he considers the issue to be.


There might be a legal-constitutional reason why the President has not spoken to the judiciary  (assuming that he hasn't).


The Constitutional Court has wasted no time criticizing the President for his ill-advised actions, particularly the ridiculous PERPPU. Given the President's sensitivities (remember he said he had been “awfully hurt”), it could well be that the President can't see beyond his own personal issues.

The KPK, according to McGuire, is the institution that helped Yudhoyono won his second term. It's his duty not to see it crumbled:

What can we learn from this? The President can no longer sit back and let things happen — not when they are of national importance, and most certainly not when they have a direct impact on his credibility. He won the election because of the KPK. He has shamelessly ridden on the coat-tails of their success. He must protect them.

He owes it to the people who elected him.

Concerned Indonesian citizens are showing their support online and offline.

More than 400, 380 facebookers joined a group called A Million Facebookers Supporting Chandra Hamzah and Bibit Samad Riyanto.

Twitterers use hastag #dukungkpk or support KPK to show their support and voice opinions.

Offline, a group of people started a black shirt campaign. Last Monday, Indonesians were encouraged to wear black ribbon as a sign of mourning for the death of truth and justice and to show support for the release of the two men who represent the nation's fight against corruption.

In Indonesia, corruption is seen as vicious cycle that hampers the economy and rusting the people's trust of justice institutions such as the police and the  court. According to a survey released in 2009 by Transparency International Indonesia, the Polri is named the most corrupt institution in the country by respondents, who are mainly businessmen.

Tiada Kata Jera untuk Perjuangkan Pemberantasan Korupsi…Menyikapi Upaya Kriminalisasi KPK, Hanya ada Satu Kata : Lawan !


  • maling teriak maling?

    The tentacles of corruption reach deep in Indonesia and it’s hard to know who is clean and who is not.

  • Barry

    The tentacles run deep? Its hard to know who is clean? Nobody is clean! It’s filth from the bottom all the way to the top. The “tentacles” metaphor presumes a sound body. That, I am sad to say, is a nonsense. What is called KKN is so entrenched that is almost a nonsense to refer to corruption when talking about governence or the administration of justice in this ancient and long suffering land which I love so much. Corruption, according to its etymological derivation, presumes that the corrupting practices are the exception rather than the norm. I do not think it is controvercial or debatable to say that sadly this is not the case in Indonesia.

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