The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has reminded President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's administration that corruption remains the main obstacle to investment in Indonesia. (Antara Photo/R. Rekotomo)

Corruption, Not KPK, the Main Obstacle to Investment in Indonesia, Antigraft Agency Says

BY :FANA SUPARMAN

SEPTEMBER 25, 2019

Jakarta. The national antigraft agency has reminded President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration that corruption remains the main obstacle to investment in Indonesia.

The current leadership of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) also expressed concern that a revision to the KPK Law may severely constrain the agency's ability to carry out its mandate.

"Obstacles to investment in Indonesia are first, corruption, second, bureaucratic inefficiency, then a lack of access to finance, inadequate infrastructure, legal uncertainty, government instability, tax ratios and so on," KPK deputy chairman Laode M. Syarif said on Tuesday, referring to the World Economic Forum's global competitiveness report. 

"[The aim of] corruption eradication is to improve the quality of democracy, while at the same time, improving the business climate. [Corruption] breaks down the legal order, reduces the quality of life, hampers sustainable development and even results in human rights violations, causing other crimes to flourish and hurt the poor," Laode said.

His comment came after Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko said the KPK, which has existed since 2002, was stifling investment in the country. "The KPK can hamper investment efforts. This is not understood by the public," he told reporters on Monday. 

The former Indonesian Military (TNI) commander later clarified his statement, saying that he meant the KPK would create significant uncertainty for investors if its investigative powers went unchecked. 

The government and the House of Representatives earlier this month passed a revision to the KPK Law, reducing the antigraft agency's investigative powers. This resulted in thousands of students across the country taking to the streets in protest. Several law students from the University of Indonesia and Pelita Harapan University in Jakarta, as well as Pajajaran University in Bandung, West Java, also filed a motion in the Constitutional Court last week for a review of the new KPK Law.

KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah said on Wednesday that there were 26 points in the new law that weaken and even cripple the agency. 

Among others, the two-year limit on any KPK investigation would practically prevent it from taking on more complicated corruption cases, Febri said. The investigation into the so-called e-KTP corruption case, which involved massive graft in a government tender for electronic national identity cards, has been ongoing for more than seven years, but only two suspects have so far been convicted. 

Another stipulation would also see KPK investigators become government officials, instead of members of an independent body. Febri said this could allow suspects to disrupt the investigation process by simply transferring the investigators involved to other state agencies. 

The new law also adds more layers of bureaucracy in the process of securing authorization to wiretap suspects, undermining one of its most effective investigative tools that has led to the arrest of many corruption suspects over the past decade. 

The new law further limits the KPK to Jakarta, preventing efforts to eradicate corruption in other parts of the country, Febri said. 

He also rejected claims that the new law would ensure the KPK focused more on prevention. 

"There is no enforcement with regards to prevention," Febri said. "There are no strict sanctions against state officials failing to file wealth reports. It remains unregulated."

"Another constraint to prevention efforts, which often happens when the KPK's recommendations are not followed up, is also not resolved by this revision. There should be sanctions [for not following the KPK's recommendations] if there is indeed any serious intent to strengthen the KPK's ability to prevent corruption," he added.

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