Experts, politicians split over Jokowi’s indecisive KPK Stance

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s non-intervention approach to the worsening standoff between the National Police and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has won support from politicians but criticism from experts who condemn his indecisiveness as divisive for the country.

The current situation is similar to what happened last week when of 10 factions at the House of Representatives only the Democratic Party criticized the President for continuing to ask the House to endorse Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan as National Police chief, despite his being named as a graft suspect by the antigraft body.

Jokowi had earlier proclaimed that he would not intervene in the ongoing tug-of-war between the National Police and the KPK that arose after the latter named Budi a suspect in a bribery case two weeks ago and continued when police filed criminal allegations against two KPK commissioners, leading to fears that the anti corruption institution might be rendered dysfunctional.

Last Friday the National Police named KPK deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto a suspect for encouraging perjury in an election dispute case and chairman Adnan Pandu Praja was reported to the police the next day for allegedly illegally taking over the shares of logging company PT Desy Timber in Berau, East Kalimantan.

Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie applauded Jokowi’s move, saying outsiders should step out of the way and allow the law enforcement institutions to settle the matter themselves.

“Both of them [the KPK and the National Police] are law enforcement institutions. Let them resolve their own problems,” Aburizal said on the sidelines of a party meeting on Sunday.

Several other Golkar officials shared Aburizal’s view, including Speaker of the House of Representatives Setya Novanto and Aziz Syamsudddin, chairman of House’s Commission III overseeing legal affairs, human rights and security.

“No one is weakening the KPK,” Setya said. He added that he was calling on the public, as well as on state institutions, to not blame each other over the ongoing legal standoff between the KPK and the National Police.

The Democratic Party’s Benny Kabur Harman, who is a deputy chairman of House’s Commission III, only responded by saying, “It’s all in the President’s hands.” Meanwhile, House Deputy Speaker
Agus Hermanto said that the House’s leadership would task Commission III to further examine the matter.

Similarly, Asep Warlan Yusuf of Parahyangan Catholic University in Bandung suggested Jokowi set up an independent team to examine Bambang’s legal case in order to respond to suspicions that the KPK commissioner had been accused of criminality as an intentional attack on the institution.

“Also, Pak Jokowi must immediately talk with the House to discuss measures to be taken to prevent the KPK from becoming dysfunctional because of a lack of commissioners,” Asep said.

“At the same time, Jokowi must also tap someone else as a definitive National Police chief. And I think the person must not be Pak Budi Gunawan because of the controversy and the mounting public opposition to him,” the lecturer emphasized.

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