Indonesia: House declaws KPK in dubious process

  • In a move that may lead to the collapse of the decades-old fight against corruption in the country, the House of Representatives passed a law amendment that neuters the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in a plenary session on 17 Sep 19 afternoon with the blessing of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
  • The bill’s passage, which sped through in less than two weeks, comes hot on the heels of the selection of South Sumatra Police chief Insp. Gen. Firli Bahuri as the 2019 to 2023 KPK chairman by the House, despite accusations that Firli conducted “gross ethical violations” during his brief tenure as KPK law enforcement chief in 2018.
  • In a dire outlook of the future of a neutered KPK, experts said the last remaining bulwark to prevent the implementation of the law was through petitioning against it in court.
  • Andalas University constitutional law expert Feri Amsari, who is part of a civil society alliance that rejected the law, said the law could be challenged both at the State Administrative Court (PTUN) and the Constitutional Court.
  • “At the PTUN we can raise the issue that the President named the law and human rights minister and administrative and bureaucratic reform minister to represent him during deliberations, without involving the current KPK commissioners, even though the Constitutional Court ruled that the KPK is part of the executive branch,” he told The Jakarta Post on 17 Sep 19.
  • Feri said the alliance was considering to include several of the law’s articles in the petition, including articles that erase the special nature of corruption and articles regarding the formation of the supervisory council.
  • Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) researcher Donal Fariz said his organization was also preparing to challenge the law at the Constitutional Court.
  • “We need to challenge it because it is a result of political banality,” he told the Post.
  • “The government has closed its eyes to the need for a strong KPK and closed its ears to the complaints of citizens and public figures about the rushed and secretive nature of the law’s passing.”
  • In total, the bill only needed six days and five meetings to be passed after Jokowi sent the letter. Of the five meetings, only two were open to the public. The government and lawmakers wrapped up the discussion of the bill on 16 Sep 19 night, in another closed-door meeting. The press was only allowed to enter the room one hour before it ended.

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