Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman Agus Rahardjo, center, reads out a statement during a press conference in Jakarta on Friday evening on returning their mandate to President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo. (Antara Photo/Sigid Kurniawan)

Antigraft Agency Commissioners Return Their Mandate in Protest

BY :TELLY NATHALIA

SEPTEMBER 13, 2019

Jakarta. Commissioners of the national antigraft agency released a statement on Friday evening to "return their mandate" to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

They said "extraordinary circumstances" had forced them to take this step, as the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is progressively being crippled by a series of revisions to the KPK Law, initiated by the House of Representatives, and the national legislature's controversial selection process for new commissioners.

By returning their mandate, the KPK commissioners effectively handed over the agency's reins to the president. Ongoing investigations by the agency may have to be stopped temporarily.

"[The KPK commissioners] have decided to hand over the responsibility of managing corruption eradication [efforts] to the president of Indonesia," KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah said at a press conference at the agency's headquarters in South Jakarta.

The House approved the proposed revisions to the 2002 KPK Law last week and said it intended to pass them before its current term ends on Sept. 30. 

House Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, selected five new KPK commissioners on Friday morning and appointed a new chairman among them, former South Sumatra Police chief Insp. Gen. Firli Bahuri.

Firli had worked as an investigator for the KPK in 2018, but his career was dogged by allegations of misconduct, including reportedly receiving 600 free tickets to a concert of Irish boyband Westlife in Palembang in August this year. 

Firli's selection as KPK chairman almost immediately drew widespread objection. Saut Situmorang, a current KPK commissioner, and Tsani Annafari, an advisor to the agency, both resigned from their posts later in the day.

KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo told journalists at the press conference on Friday evening that the agency was worried by obvious attempts at weakening it, especially the proposed revisions to the KPK Law.

"We are very concerned. Perhaps it's true that there have been [efforts] to weaken the KPK," Agus said, adding that until Friday evening, the agency still had not had access to the proposed revisions to the law. 

The House proposes six major revisions to the law – the legal basis for the KPK's functions. One of these would make it much harder for the agency to obtain permission to wiretap corruption suspects.   

"After careful consideration, we the leaders of the KPK will hand over responsibility for managing the agency to the president of Indonesia. We will wait for [his] decision on whether we still have his trust [to continue our work] until December ... and to continue our operations as usual. We will wait for the order [from the president]," Agus said.

He was accompanied by Laode M. Syarif and Saut, who resigned earlier, and Febri, the agency spokesman.

The commissioners hope Jokowi will talk to them to hear their opinion. 

"We hope the president can take immediate steps to save the KPK," Agus said.

KPK commissioners Alexander Marwata and Basaria Panjaitan did not attend the press conference.

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