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Indonesia's Pick for Top Cop is a Suspect in a Bribery Scandal

Categories: East Asia, Indonesia, Freedom of Speech, Governance, Human Rights, Politics, Protest

Indonesian activists held a rally demanding a 'clean' new national police chief in Jakarta. Photo by Nugroho Budianggoro, Copyright @Demotix (1/18/2015) [1]

Indonesian activists held a rally demanding a ‘clean’ new national police chief in Jakarta. Photo by Nugroho Budianggoro, Copyright @Demotix (1/18/2015)

The only nominee for Indonesia's top police post has been named by the country's anti-corruption agency as a suspect in a bribery scandal, prompting many Indonesians to urge President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) [2] to cancel the nomination and appoint a police chief with a clean record.

According to the Corruption Eradication Committee (KPK) [3], Commissioner General Budi Gunawan [4] had several questionable bank transactions when he was stationed at the Indonesian National Police Headquarters. This was corroborated by the Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) [5] and the Indonesian Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK) [6].

A report was submitted to the president, but Gunawan's nomination to the parliament was not withdrawn.

For its part, the National Police Commissioner (Kompolnas) blamed KPK and PPATK for its delayed submission of Gunawan's record [7]. But PPATK chief Muhammad Yusuf said [8] that his agency had filed its official recommendation last October.

Gunawan served as adjutant to former President Megawati Soekarnoputri [9], the leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) [10] that supported Jokowi's candidacy. But many Indonesians reminded Jokowi that he should be accountable to the people and not the politicians who endorsed him:

Ingat selalu Pak @jokowi_do2 [11] Bpk tdk berhutang budi kpd Megawati atau PDIP, Bpk berhutang budi kpd RAKYAT. #TarikBudi [12]

— Sari Widuri (@sarinafa) January 18, 2015 [13]

Remember always, Mr. Joko WIdodo, you don't owe anything to Megawati or PDIP, you owe it to the people.

A petition urging Jokowi to withdraw Gunawan's candidacy has already been signed by more than 27,000 people:

We reached 27k! Support the petition. #cleannationalpolice

Many also expressed support for the efforts of the KPK to fight corruption in all branches of the government:

 We come to KPK to support KPK. A clean police (institution) is a must. #withdrawbudi

The choice of Gunawan for the top police post is even more surprising considering that Jokowi, who was a former governor of Jakarta, the country's capital, became famous [21] for his reformist image and non-traditional leadership. After his victory as president, he introduced the concept of “Nawa Cita” or nine primary agenda of administration, that included reforming the system and eradicating corruption in all law enforcement agencies. After news broke out about Gunawan's tainted record, many asked if Jokowi is already abandoning the idea of “Nawa Cita”:

 Don't violate the Nawa Cita, say no to Budi Gunawan. #cleanpolice #withdrawlbudi #policechiefnominee.

Blogger Ferizal Rami [29] offered his insight [30] on the murky side of Gunawan's appointment:

PDIP itu tidak sepenuhnya di bawah Jokowi. PDIP itu di bawah Mega. […] Birokrasi juga „enggan“ dekat dengan Jokowi karena banyak kebijakan Jokowi mengganggu „zona nyaman“ para pejabat birokrat. Di titik ini secara realitas jika Jokowi BERANI menentang maunya Mega dengan menolak BG maka ini „harakiri“ politik! […] kita semua tahu bahwa Mega itu punya jejak rekam buruk tentang BLBI yang saat ini sedang dikotak-katik KPK. Sangat mungkin Mega benar-benar butuh BENTENG yang melindunginya yaitu Kapolri yang siap sikat habis pihak-pihak yang berani otak-atik BLBI. Di titik ini bagi saya, Jokowi cukup cerdas untuk berkelit dalam situasi sulit dengan pilihan-pilihan sulit.

Jokowi doesn't control PDIP, Mega does. Bureaucracy is reluctant to be close to Jokowi because many of his policies attack the comfort zone of bureaucrats. At this point [we can see that] if Jokowi defies Mega by declining BG's candidacy, then he'll be doing a political hara-kiri. We all know that Mega is implicated in BLBI scandal [31], one of KPK's active investigations. Highly likely Mega needs a fortress to protect her, in this case a National Police Chief who will charge everyone who dares to snoop on [the] BLBI case. At this point, I think Jokowi is wise enough to dodge the impossible situation by carrying out unpopular decisions.

Jokowi responded to the public uproar by postponing [32] the nomination of Gunawan until the KPK has finished its probe.