Jakarta. Laode M. Syarif, the deputy chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, is among the winners of the 2019 Advance Awards, a prestigious honor for members of Australia's global diaspora and alumni.
"I am grateful for this unexpected recognition from Advance. I never thought I would get it, so I was surprised when some friends from Sydney University's School of Law contacted me, telling me I've won the award," Laode told the Jakarta Globe on Sunday.
Laode, who earned his doctorate from the School of Law in 2007, won the 2019 Global Alumni Award for his achievement in combating corruption in Indonesia, according to a statement from Advance.
Laode had been involved in strengthening Indonesia's law enforcement agencies since more than a decade ago, though initially from "mostly behind the scene."
"I started doing a lot of work assisting the KPK soon after its establishment [in 2002]," he said.
"I developed capacity-building programs for the National Police, the Attorney General's Office, the KPK and many other government agencies, but back then I was mostly working behind the scene," Laode said.
Becoming a commissioner in the five-member KPK leadership board has been the biggest achievement of his career so far since it allows him to get involved directly in the fight against rampant corruption in Indonesia, the 54-year-old said.
The current KPK commissioners have adopted several policies that have led to a major breakthrough never before seen in its previous leaderships, he said.
For the first time in its history, the KPK has begun to prosecute business entities for corruption.
"In the past, we never investigate or prosecute companies for corruption – which is a corporate criminal liability. But now we're in the middle of prosecuting several of them," he said.
The KPK also established its first anti-corruption learning center in its headquarters in Jakarta two years ago, which has received positive responses not just from the Indonesian public but also from other countries.
"Every month we receive guests and students from many other countries [at the learning center]. [They] come to the KPK to study how to prevent and combat corruption," Laode said.
To expand the agency's reach in the vast Indonesian archipelago, the KPK has established nine "virtual offices."
Laode said the KPK headquarters will remain in Jakarta, but a special team has been assigned to handle cases in nine areas on the islands of Sumatra, Kalimantan, Papua, Maluku and Sulawesi.
"We want to open real offices later on but at the moment we've kicked off the process with virtual ones," Laode said.
"In the KPK we have people who concentrate solely on cases happening in those particular regions, not only in prevention but also in investigation and prosecution," he said.
Laode, whose four-year term will end in December, said under the current leadership the number of cases handled by the KPK had increased sharply.
"We used to handle fewer than 100 cases per year but now we're investigating more than 100 [per year]," he said.
Last year, the anti-graft agency handled close to 200 cases.
During Laode's tenure, the KPK managed to solve a number of major corruption cases involving high-profile suspects.
One of them is a long-running graft scandal involving a government project to procure a national electronic ID card called "e-KTP" that has already put House of Representatives speaker and Golkar politician Setya Novanto behind bars for 15 years.
Laode was also instrumental in the investigation of "transnational corruption cases" involving crude oil importer Petral and flag-carrier Garuda Indonesia.
His background in international environmental law has also helped the KPK in collaborative investigations with law enforcement agencies from other countries in environmental corruption cases, he said.
A total of 12 individuals or organizations will receive the 2019 Advance Awards – out of 200 nominations from 28 countries – in various fields from technology innovation, financial services and healthcare to social impact, sustainability and the arts.
The awarding ceremony for the winners will be held at a gala party in Sydney on Thursday.