A Budi Gunawan supporter wears his mask during a street rally last year, when he was declared a suspect in a corruption case by anti-graft agency KPK. (Antara Photo/Hafidz Mubarak A.)

Inaction, Calculated or Not, Prompts Over-Analysis of Jokowi's Police Chief Pick

FEBRUARY 06, 2015

A man wears a paper mask showing the face of Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan in Jakarta on Feb. 2, 2015, amid protests calling for the halt of his nomination as National Police chief. (Antara Photo/Hafidz Mubarak A.)

Jakarta. Experts on Thursday lamented the latest remark from Joko Widodo’s administration for once again delaying his decision in regards to police chief nomination saying that the president should move quickly to replace the current candidate, three-star graft and money laundering suspect Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan.

Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto said that Joko is “considering the risks” of doing nothing regarding Budi’s nomination.

“The president has some idea about he plans to do,” Andi said on Wednesday.

It is unclear whether the president has chosen, by virtue of some inarticulated but deliberate political calculation, to pursue a course of inaction that has, until now, put himself in the dilemmatic  position of either heeding public outcry against swearing-in Budi as police chief, or alternately succumbing to the demands of the six-party Awesome Indonesia Coalition (KIH) that supports his administration — or whether the president has found himself locked in what appears to be a no-win situation as a result of a miscalculation and subsequent silent obstinence.

Instead withdrawing his nomination of “Bagman Budi,” as the would-be police chief has come to be known, Joko said he would delay dealing with the matter until next week, after concluding a series of three state visits to Southeast Asian neighbors.

Joko previously said he would “delay, not cancel” swearing-in Budi in light of the graft-and-money laundering suspect’s unresolved legal troubles.

Following the president’s announcement, the National Police fired a volley of near-simultaneous retaliatory arrests and indictments against four of the KPK’s commissioners.

Andi said the president has a total of six options.

The first, Andi said, is for Budi to withdraw from the process; the second is to go ahead with inaugurating Budi; the third is for Joko to inaugurate, then suspend Budi; the fourth is to wait for a legally binding court ruling on Budi’s pending cases; the fifth is to withdraw Budi’s nomination and pick someone else.

“The last option is to stay with the current condition, while making new calculations,” Andi said.

The cryptic remark has been interpreted as suggesting deliberate inaction, which observers say would be consistent with this  president’s apparent modus operandi to date, as well as that of his predecessor.

Withdrawing Budi

State Secretary Pratikno suggested on Tuesday that the neatest solution would be for Budi to withdraw his nomination — a move that would carry few political or ethical consequences for the president.

Budi served as Megawati Soekarnoputri’s security aide during her presidency from 2001-2004 and is widely believed have been foisted onto Joko for the post of National Police chief by Megawati, who chairs the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) that supported Joko for president.

Andi said the president has already suggested this “several times” with Budi, to no avail.

The National Police’s deputy chief, Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti, confirmed that Budi had been asked to withdraw.

“He’s still waiting for his pretrial hearing to conclude,” Badrodin said on Wednesday, referring to Budi’s motion to have the charges brought by the KPK quashed, citing improper legal procedures.

But Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) coordinator Ade Irawan said the president does not need to seek Budi’s approval to have his nomination terminated.

“The key is in president’s firmness, since he has great responsibility for this whole situation,” Ade told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday. “Should Budi keep refusing to back down, the president can merely cancel his nomination and find his replacement.”

Swearing-in Budi

Observers polled by the Jakarta Globe said inaugurating Budi was the most unpopular and least recommended course for Joko to pursue.

Should Joko insist on inaugurating Budi, it will only trigger public uproar condemning his decision, analysts said.

“Why would even Joko issue such six options? There is only one option; not inaugurating Budi and find a better replacement,” University of Indonesia political observer Cecep Hidayat said on Thursday.

Ade echoed the sentiment: “Nominating a graft suspect as a police chief should never enter Joko’s mind. This option should barred completely from consideration,” Ade said.

“Ever since he was named a suspect, the public has united in its rejection of  Budi. They’ve been calling for Joko to cancel Budi’s inauguration. If Joko does this, he definitely will lose public’s trust,” Ade said.

“Moreover, Joko will lose authority over the  police. This also will endanger the prospects of clean law enforcement and corruption eradication in the country,” Ade added.

Inaugurate, then suspend

Cecep said the option had no benefit at all therefore should be dropped off from Joko’s consideration.

“Joko could inaugurate Budi to calm Megawati down, and then suspend him to win people’s heart. But then what’s this all for?” Cecep said.

“This option is useless. Rather than wasting his time, Joko is better off finding another candidate that is more credible and clean.”

Syafii Maarif, one of presidential panelists Joko called upon to advise him in resolving the charges and counter-charges waged in the KPK-police war, said the president is likely to scrap Budi’s nomination and find a new nominee.

Cecep said that the move will likely tear at the relationship between Joko and his political patron, Megawati.

“Joko will likely lose political support from his coalition. He will face more challenges in his future administration. But even so, he can form another coalition with the opposition and or create his own political base,” Cecep said.

New nominee

“The presidential panel has recommended Joko not to inaugurate Budi” legal expert Todung Mulya Lubis said. “I think that’s the best option Joko has now. He has to follow the recommendation.”

To avoid a repeat of recent history, the next national police chief nominee should be free from any party ties and must be investigated transparently by the KPK and the Financial Transaction Report and Analysis Center (PPATK), observers agreed.

“Joko has done this when selecting his ministries, so why not using the same strategy in this matter?” Ade said.

The National Police Commission (Kompolnas) member Adrianus Meliala said the statutory watchdog group has proposed list of candidates: Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti, Comr. Gen. Dwi Prayitno, Comr. Gen. Putut Bayuseno and the newly promoted Comr. Gen. Budi Waseso.

Wait for indictment

Todung said that waiting for resolution of Budi’s criminal charges in court would prolong an untenable uncertainty.

“The legal process could take forever. How long will Joko wait for Budi’s legal status? Who will be in charge of the police until then?” Todung said.

Deputy police chief Badrodin Haiti currently serves as acting police chief.

“We’re talking not just about a single pretrial hearing here. As graft suspect, Budi would also face legal proceedings in the anti-corruption court; this takes time, too, depleting the administration’s time and energy,” Todung said.

“It will be a burden for law enforcement in Indonesia. Police chief with bribery case would inherit ineffective and questionable system in our country,” Todung said. “In the era where perception mostly matters, Joko shouldn’t ignore his people’s call. If he ignores it, Joko would only leave his people a trust crisis towards his government and law enforcement."

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