The House of Representatives and the government approved the controversial KPK Law revisions on Tuesday. (Antara Photo/M. Risyal Hidayat)

KPK Takes Its Time to Implement Law Revisions

BY :HOTMAN SIREGAR & NUR YASMIN

SEPTEMBER 19, 2019

Jakarta. The Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, has asked for a month-long transition period to review and implement changes to the institution, following a surprisingly swift approval of revisions to the 2002 law about the institution – rushed by the House of Representatives, or DPR, early this week. 

Alexander Marwata, the deputy chairman of the KPK, said the antigraft agency's board of commissioners has established a transition team to work out the consequences of the changes to the law for the institution, including to its human resources and its effectiveness in fighting and preventing corruption, and to recommend any necessary follow-ups.

"We have about one month to discuss these matters. We hope within that time we already know what steps we have to take," Alexander said on Wednesday.

The study is needed because procedures in the KPK will change after the revised law is signed by the president and enacted.

"Maybe there will be changes related to KPK procedures, maybe the KPK commissioners will be tasked with only preventing corruption, maybe. We'll see," Alexander said.

Anti-corruption activists say the revisions to the KPK Law will reduce the commission's independence and effectiveness in fighting corruption.   

The KPK will retain its role as a law enforcement agency but now as part of the executive power of government. This will make it hard for the antigraft agency to remain independent, the activists say.

The formation of a new KPK supervisory board to reduce power abuse and monitor its activities is feared will in reality limit the agency's room to move.

Wiretaps will now require written permission from the supervisory board.

Investigation will be discontinued once it has gone on for more than a year.

The KPK will have to coordinate investigations and filings of corruption lawsuits with other law enforcement agencies. 

The mechanism to conducts raids and confiscate evidence for the agency has been changed.

KPK staff will join the civil service. 

Charles Simabura, a researcher at the Center of Constitutional Studies at Andalas University in West Sumatra, said the center and several other civil society organizations plan to submit a judicial review of the new KPK Law to the Constitutional Court.

Charles said they would ask the Court to review how the new law was drafted and examine several articles in the revisions. 

"The new law could be annulled altogether, or some articles that are deemed to be against the spirit of anti-corruption could be dropped," he said.  

Approval in Record Time

The DPR approved the revisions to the KPK Law on Tuesday, after deliberating on them for only 13 days – a stark contrast to deliberations for other laws that often take years.

The deliberation was conducted privately at the DPR, including in the House Commission III. The antigraft agency itself was never invited to the discussion.

DPR deputy chairman Fahri Hamzah led a plenary session to decide on the KPK Law revisions with chairman Bambang Soesatyo and deputy chairman Utut Adianto.

The head of the KPK Law committee Supratman Andi said in the meeting the government and all political factions at the DPR – except the Democratic Party – had agreed to revisions.

"The KPK has been ineffective, shown weaknesses in coordination, suffered from internal problems with its own commissioners, lacked coordination with other law enforcement agencies, run into problems with wiretapping, experienced overlaps of power and lacked a supervisory board to ensure its accountability," Supratman said.

He said the revisions to the law are expected to make corruption prevention more effective and conducted according to the law.

"The Democratic Party has a specific note about the supervisory council. It would be an abuse of power if the members of the council are selected by the president, he does not have the power to do it," Democratic Party representative Erma Ranik said.

Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly conveyed President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's gratitude to the DPR for finishing the revisions.

"On behalf of the president, I thank the chairman and the members of the DPR for their dedication and hard work in completing the KPK Law revisions," Yasonna said at the plenary session on Tuesday.

What's the Rush?

KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo said on Friday last week that the KPK Law revisions might be an attempt to defang the agency, especially with the appointment of Firli Bahuri as the new chairman.

Agus condemned what he described as poor communication and lack of initiative by the DPR to include the KPK in their deliberations of the revisions to the law.

He also said the deliberations appeared to have taken place with undue haste.

"What is the emergency? Why is it so important to have [the revisions] approved immediately? We are more than concerned and think this will seriously weaken the KPK. We hope the president will take measures to rescue the situation," he said last Friday.

Jokowi said the KPK needs to act wisely and show statesmanship since it is a state institution.

Among the five newly elected KPK commissioners, Alexander is the only one already serving with the agency. 

 

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