Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo. (Antara Photo/M. Agung Rajasa)

By Default, New KPK Law Comes Into Effect Today: Minister


OCTOBER 17, 2019

Jakarta. The heavily amended Corruption Eradication Commission Law will come into effect by default on Thursday, 30 days after it was passed by the House of Representatives, a minister has said.

The amended law brings in controversial new provisions: KPK commissioners will no longer have the power to investigate or prosecute a case; wiretaps of potential suspects or asset seizures can only be done after securing a permit from a president-appointed oversight body; and all KPK staff will have to join the civil service. 

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has not signed the new law reportedly because the text still contained too many typos. However, that will not prevent the law from coming into effect, according to Home Affairs Minister Tjahjo Kumolo, who is also the acting Justice Minister.

"A law that has been deliberated together by the House and the government, and then passed by a House plenary session, will automatically come into effect within 30 days, although the president has not signed it," Tjahjo told reporters at the State Palace on Wednesday.

He was referring to Article 20 of the 1945 Constitution, which says a bill that has been mutually agreed upon but has not been signed by the president shall become law within 30 days from the date of the mutual agreement.

However, Tjahjo admitted he had no knowledge if the new law would be published on the state gazette on Thursday, as normally happens to any enacted laws to mark their coming into effect.

He also said there was no immediate plan to discuss subsidiary legislations such as a government regulation under the new KPK law.

"We haven't discussed that yet. I'm only the acting justice minister, I can't make strategic decisions. All we can do is wait for directives [from the president]," he said.

Slim Chance for Annulment

Legal experts have suggested only the president or the Constitutional Court can annul the new KPK Law.

The president is authorized by the constitution to issue a decree in lieu of law, but he has balked at the idea.

Or, the Constitutional Court may declare that the law is against the constitution, which will effectively make it invalid.

Several groups of anti-graft activists have demanded a judicial review of the new law, but the Constitutional Court has not responded. 

The president made no reply when asked by reporters if he would issue a decree in lieu of law to override the KPK Law shortly after meeting People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) speaker Bambang Soesatyo at the State Palace. It was Bambang who replied, saying that the issue was never discussed at the meeting.  

"What we did discuss was the inauguration," Bambang said, referring to Jokowi's second term inauguration on Oct. 20.

A third way exists for the new law to be annulled, but is very unlikely to happen. In theory, the new House members can challenge any law passed by their predecessors, but the odds for this are very low since all political party fractions in the House had earlier voted yes for the amendment.

Killing the KPK

KPK Deputy Chairman Laode M. Syarif has said that dismantling the KPK commissioners' authorities is tantamount to "killing" the anti-graft agency.

"The next commissioners will not have the power to investigate or prosecute, this is just like killing the KPK," Laode said.

The KPK will also lose its privilege as an independent state agency, because its entire staff will join the civil service, he said.

Furthermore, the new law creates a loophole stemming from the president-appointed oversight body that may cause troubles in the future.

The oversight body is authorized to give permits for wiretaps or asset seizures, but it will be made up of civilians who have no authority to investigate a case or prosecute suspects.

"This is against the core principle of the law. Maybe the president doesn't see it at the moment," Laode said in a recent interview with the Jakarta Globe.