The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) headquarters in Setiabudi, South Jakarta. (SP Photo/Ruht Semiono)

Doubts Over KPK's Willingness to Investigate Irregularities in Covid-19 Mitigation Budget


APRIL 23, 2020

Jakarta. The Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, said a new legal instrument is needed to monitor the government's Covid-19 mitigation budget in addition to its own circular on the procurement of goods and services for pandemic mitigation issued on April 2. 

The KPK circular requires any procurement to be conducted according to Government Goods and Services Procurement Policy Agency (LKPP) regulations, which are based on the principles of transparency, effectiveness, accountability and value for money to avoid acts of corruption.

"The circular will only work if we have a legal instrument to enforce it," former KPK chairman Bambang Widjojanto said in an online discussion with anti-corruption watchdog Indonesia Corruption Watch on Wednesday.

Bambang said the KPK should coordinate a special task force dedicated to corruption eradication and prevention during a pandemic.


He regretted the KPK had not sent a team to monitor aid distribution to regional areas during the coronavirus crisis.

"The fact that the KPK has not done this might imply that it doesn't take monitoring the pandemic mitigation budget seriously enough," Bambang said.

The KPK's seriousness in monitoring the budget has also been questioned by Abdul Fickar Hadjar, a lecturer in law at Trisakti University in Jakarta.

He said the KPK should start with investigating "conflict of interest" scandals involving President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's often-lampooned millennial advisors.

Belva Devara's resignation over the pre-employment card scandal and Andi Taufan Garuda Putra's unauthorized letters to sub-district heads asking for support for his own company's program should be ground enough for investigation, according to Abdul. 

"Let's be realistic. These cases involved conflicts of interest, the root of all corruption. If the KPK is serious in monitoring the government's Covid-19 mitigation budget, they should start by investigating these cases," Abdul said.

A former commissioner of the KPK, Mohammad Jasin, said he also had serious doubts over the antigraft agency's ability to investigate corruption cases involving the pandemic mitigation budget since the new KPK Law issued in 2019 had severely reduced its investigatory powers. 

"The law requires the KPK to ask for the president's permission before investigating corruption cases involving state officials. It would be very difficult for the KPK to start an investigation into graft cases involving the Covid-19 mitigation budget," he said.

Constitutional law expert and a lecturer at Jakarta's Jentera Law School, Bivitri Susanti, also doubted the KPK would be willing to investigate corruption involving the pandemic mitigation budget due to conflicts of interest in the commission itself.

"They might start up an investigation, but once the case starts to involve law enforcers or government officials, I'm afraid it's not going to go anywhere," she said.