Candidates’ Manifestos Light on Antigraft Fight

The Corruption Eradication Commission's (KPK) selection committee for its advisory council has narrowed its candidates to 13 from 34 following a second phase of deliberations. (JG Photo)

By : webadmin | on 10:02 AM May 21, 2014
Category : News, Featured

The fight against corruption does not seem to be a pressing issue for the two tickets vying for Indonesia’s presidency; from the dozens of pages in campaign manifestos they submitted to election officials, only a brief section is dedicated by each pair to the country’s chronic graft problems — with no clear attempts for a breakthrough in dealing with the matter.

People’s favorite Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla submitted their 42-page campaign platform while registering for the July 9 presidential race at the General Elections Commission (KPU) office in Jakarta on Monday.

After a lengthy focus on “reaffirming the ideology” with a full return to Pancasila — the five philosophical foundations of the country — and creating a “sovereign and independent” Indonesia; the document finally touched the issue of corruption eradication halfway through page 24.

“We will eradicate corruption in the legislation sector with firm actions against government officials [caught] taking bribes and trading people’s interest,” the manifesto stated.

The pair wrote about their commitment to providing “transparent, corruption-free” public services and issuing antigraft regulations through the endorsement of bills on asset seizure and witness/victim protection, among others.

But only a little was said about the very agency at the forefront of Indonesia’s anti-graft crusade, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), despite past attacks on the institution and attempts to weaken it following successful arrests of corrupt politicians and police generals.

“We support the presence of the KPK... It must be safeguarded as an independent institution free of political influences,” the manifesto said, adding that Joko-Kalla, if elected, would maintain cooperative ties between the KPK, police and the Attorney General’s Office (AGO).

The document continues with the promise of giving priority to tackling corruption in the tax office and judiciary system — offering nothing new.

The ticket of Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa, spoke even less about corruption, touching on the matter in two brief paragraphs out of the eight pages of their campaign platform.

“Preventing and eradicating corruption, collusion and nepotism through the implementation of open and accountable management,” the manifesto said. “KPK’s role should be strengthened with additional investigators and improved facilities.

The document similarly enlisted the need for synergy among the country’s various law-enforcement institutions, with an additional point on the need to cut short bureaucracy to prevent wrongdoing.

Antigraft activists called the lack of attention on corruption “disappointing.”

“Antigraft measures should be their priority,” Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) coordinator Ade Irawan told the Jakarta Globe. “Welfare and development programs won’t be able to run well without serious efforts to combat corruption.”

Ade said the minimal inclusion of antigraft issues in either ticket’s manifesto might as well indicate their reluctance to address the matter — which may have stemmed from the KPK’s dogged pursuit of fellow politicians that has only grown increasingly persistent since Abraham Samad took charge in 2011.

The tickets are backed by multiple political parties, some of which had members who were charged or jailed by the KPK over a string of corruption cases.

However, the lack of detail on preventing political misconduct may be attributed to the candidates’ limited understanding of antigraft measures, according to Ade.

To address the possibility, the ICW is currently drafting a technical guide outlining recommendations on ways to revamp those measures, which includes targeting corruption in the country’s tax and mining sectors, as well as improving the selection process for hiring antigraft officials.

KPK spokesman Johan Budi admitted it was ironic that neither pair paid enough attention to the antigraft fight, considering that both Joko and Prabowo had attempted to recruit Abraham as their running mate before settling with their respective choices of candidates.

Still, Johan said he remained optimistic and hoped the candidates will implement the promises they outlined on paper.

“What matters is the implementation. It’s no use writing about it [antigraft measures] in length without taking action,” Johan said. “Either way they [the candidates] have made their promises. We can leave it up to the public to demand concrete actions if they fail to deliver.”

Economic platform

Both the tickets dedicated a significant portion of their respective manifestos to economic issues, with the Prabowo-Hatta pair making them their main agenda by detailing specific targets, such as an annual economic growth of between 7 percent and 10 percent and setting aside 10 percent of state spending for developing infrastructure.

Both pairs waxed poetically on what they called the “people’s economy,” placing an emphasis on nurturing Indonesia’s self-sufficiency by strengthening its food and energy sectors, as well as empowering low-income communities such as farmers, fishermen and laborers.

The tickets aim for a more nationalistic revision of the country’s oil and gas laws, with the Prabowo-Hatta ticket promising to give priority to national energy companies during contract renegotiations.

Staying true to the “Islamic” nuance of their bloc, which consists of three Islamic parties, Prabowo-Hatta focused their attention on Shariah finance with the hopes of developing “Indonesia into a center for Shariah banking,” the manifesto stated.

Minority and human rights

Only the Joko-Kalla ticket paid particular attention on protecting the rights of Indonesia’s minorities and addressing issues of unresolved past human rights abuses. Minority protection was specified quite early in their thick manifesto (on page three), which called “intolerance, hostility, discrimination and violence against ‘those who are different’ ” one of the country’s main struggles.

The pair specifically promised to protect the rights of indigenous groups while upholding the law against “those who used violence on behalf of religion.”

Joko and Kalla continued by expressing their commitment to solving cases of past human rights violations, such as those related to the May 1998 riots, the Tanjung Priok tragedy, the Trisakti-Semanggi shooting and kidnapping, as well as the 1965 anti-communist mass killing.

“We are committed to eliminating all forms of impunity in the national legal system, including through a revision of the Military Tribune Law, which in the past has been a source of human rights abuses,” the document stated.

The Prabowo-Hatta pair, on the other hand, failed to mention these atrocities in their manifesto.


Joko-Kalla vs Prabowo-Hatta manifestos. (Source: KPU) Joko-Kalla vs Prabowo-Hatta manifestos. (Source: KPU)

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