The arrest on Friday of KPK deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto has sparked outrage — except from the party that ratted him out to the police on case that was closed in 2010. (AFP Photo)

Jokowi Risks Public Backlash After Arrest of KPK Deputy Chairman

JANUARY 23, 2015

A poster reads ‘Where is my president?’ at the headquarters of the KPK building in Jakarta on Jan. 23, 2015. (Antara Photo/Ismar Patrizki)

Jakarta. President Joko Widodo and his Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle could lose public support in the next election for not standing behind the beleaguered Corruption Eradication Commission.

The antigraft agency, known as the KPK, has been under fire from politicians particularly, Joko’s PDI-P, after naming Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan, Joko’s sole candidate for the National Police chief post, as a graft and money-laundering suspect.

The National Police responded by arresting KPK deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto on Friday for allegedly forcing a witness to provide a false testimony under oath during his time as a lawyer in 2010.

National Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto identified the person reporting Bambang to the National Police as Sugianto Sabran, a PDI-P legislator.

Sugianto lost the West Kotawaringin district election in Central Kalimantan in 2010. Bambang represented his rival, Ujang Iskandar, in an election dispute filed with the Constitutional Court by Sugianto.

Rikwanto said Sugianto reported Bambang to the National Police on Jan. 15, two days after the KPK named Budi a suspect.

Adjie Alfaraby, a researcher from the Indonesian Survey Circle, said Sugianto’s involvement in getting Bambang arrested could be seen as an attack by the PDI-P against the much-feared antigraft body.

A day before Bambang’s arrest, another PDI-P politician, Hasto Kristiyanto, accused KPK chief Abraham Samad of retaliation in naming Budi a suspect, claiming the party had refused to endorse Abraham’s reported desire to become Joko’s running mate in last year’s election.

“The public can see that there are attempts by the PDI-P to delegitimize the KPK,” Adjie said.

The arrest on Friday of KPK deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto has sparked outrage — except from the party that ratted him out to the police on case that was closed in 2010. (AFP Photo)

Vested interests

The researcher said the party had a lot of interest in ensuring Budi that would become the nation’s top cop. Budi served as a security aide to PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri during her presidency from 2001 to 2004.

Budi was also spotted having a meeting with several PDI-P elites during Joko’s election campaign, suggesting that the close ties between Budi and his former boss have been maintained.

The PDI-P’s move to revive a four-year-old election complaint that was already settled by the country’s highest court will only hurt the party’s image, Adjie warned, given the strong public support that the KPK has earned for uncovering massive corruption scandals that have cost the country billions of dollars.

“The public will fight back if there is any indication that the KPK is under attack,” he said.

Hasto has denied that he was speaking on the PDI-P’s behalf in criticizing Abraham, while the National Police insisted that Bambang’s arrest was not linked to Budi’s naming as a suspect.

But Lucius Karus of watchdog Concerned Citizens for the Indonesian Legislature (Formappi) said the timing of Hasto’s revelation and Sugianto’s report “suggests that they are very political.”

“The PDI-P and its coalition will suffer because the public will see this as a testament that they really want to see [Budi] become the police chief,” he said.

Sugianto denied that he had any political motives in filing his report.

He said he first reported Bambang to the police in 2010 but renewed the complaint recently without explaining why.

Public outcry

The National Police’s decision to arrest Bambang met with outrage and skepticism on social media on Friday.

Hashtags such as #SaveKPK, #WhereAreYouJokowi and #BambangWidjojanto topped the Twitter trending list in Indonesia.

Tweets about “Cicak dan Buaya” or “Gecko vs Crocodile” even topped the world Twitter trending topic list.

The term was coined by a former chief detective of the National Police, Susno Duadji, who referred to the KPK as a powerless gecko trying to fight a crocodile — the police force — during a similar standoff in 2009. That episode saw the police charge two KPK deputies with bribery, only to see their case revealed by the Constitutional Court as trumped-up.

Susno was himself later convicted on two counts of corruption.

Dozens of anticorruption activists visited the KPK headquarters in South Jakarta on Friday to show their support for Bambang, as a message spread on social media calling on people to gather there.

Former deputy justice minister Denny Indrayana said Joko should immediately step in to resolve the dispute between the police and the KPK.

“Let’s save the police and the KPK. Jokowi as the head of state must immediately intervene to maintain security for the sake of law enforcement,” Denny said, referring to the president by his nickname.

Siti Zuhro, a political analyst at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said Bambang’s arrest could affect the KPK’s ability to investigate pending graft cases.

“Please do not let the interests of a few weaken the KPK,” Siti said.

President Joko Widodo, second left front, is accompanied by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, third front right, KPK chairman Abraham Samad, front left, and National Police Vice Chief Cmr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti, right, in giving a press statement regarding the case of KPK deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto in Bogor, West Java, on Jan. 23, 2015. (Antara Photo/Widodo S. Jusuf)

No friction, please

Following the shock arrest, Joko on Friday urged the police and the KPK to avoid any further “friction.”

And after meeting with KPK leaders and other senior officials at the Bogor presidential palace, Joko called on both institutions to respect the law.

“I just had a meeting with the vice president, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, the attorney general, several ministers, KPK leaders, and the police deputy chief,” Joko said. “I have told the KPK chief and the National Police deputy chief that as the head of this nation I ask the National Police and the KPK to ensure an objective legal process based on the law.”

Joko also said he would not intervene in the legal processes involving Budi or Bambang.

Activists were far from satisfied with Joko’s stance.

“Jokowi’s statement is not much firmer than that of a neighborhood unit chief,” said migrant worker advocate Anis Hidayat, who came to the KPK office to show her support for the agency.

“We need a president, not a politician. Jokowi must be bold to show he supports corruption eradication.”

Ismail Hasani, research director of rights group the Setara Institute, said Joko’s weak stance would only “prolong tensions between police and the KPK.”

All but the PDI-P

Members of the opposition Red-White Coalition, even those who earlier criticized the KPK’s naming of Budi as a suspect, were quick to air their support for Bambang and criticize Joko.

“If Bambang Widjojanto is not happy then he should file a pretrial motion against the police,”  said Nasir Djamil of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

The National Mandate Party’s (PAN) Taufik Kurniawan, a deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, said the House would scrutinize the police’s decision to name Bambang a suspect.

“Hopefully all will be revealed to the public,” he said.

Taufik said he was shocked by the news but refused to speculate on the possible motive behind the arrest.

Regional Representatives Council (DPD) Speaker Irman Gusman said Joko must scrutinize the police investigation into Bambang’s case, as well as end the hostilities between the two institutions.

Golkar’s Aziz Syamsuddin, chairman of House Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, pledged his continued support for the KPK following Bambang’s arrest.

The House, he said, will ensure the KPK can perform its duties without Bambang.

The sentiments of support differed from the response from PDI-P legislator Junimart Girsang.

Police “have enough evidence. Don’t link this with an attack against the KPK. Please respect the law,” he said.

National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti said on Friday afternoon that there was no political motivation behind the arrest of the KPK deputy chief.

Instead, he said, the belated arrest in a case dating back to 2010 was a result of the police following “correct investigatory procedures” and because they had only just gathered all the necessary evidence.

“It’s because we just found enough evidence,” Badrodin said when asked about the timing of the arrest.

He said someone had recently reported the case again to the police.

The police then used the old case file as supporting evidence to reopen the case.

“I don’t see his or her political party affiliation, only the person,” Badrodin said when reporters asked whether the report came from someone in the PDI-P.

Badrodin called on the public to not see the case in the context of the KPK naming Budi Gunawan a suspect three days after his nomination as police chief by the president.

Relations between the KPK and the police are fine, he said.

“Institution-wise, there is no problem between the National Police and KPK,” he said. “There is no friction.”

A banner with hashtags including #saveKPK. (Antara Photo/Yusran Uccang)


Bambang was taken into police custody on Friday morning as he was about to drop his children off at school. Several witnesses reported that police cuffed the KPK deputy with his children watching.

Police reportedly also took Bambang’s children to the National Police headquarters, where he is being held.

Former National Police deputy chief Oegroseno said the police should have treated Bambang with more respect, considering he was a public official.

“This is against procedure, treating a state official like a terrorist,” he said, “particularly with the arrest conducted with a summons for inquiry.

“The way the arrest was carried out will cost the police public sympathy.”

KPK chairman Abraham said Bambang knew of the risk of police retaliation from naming Budi a suspect, given past cases.

“[Bambang] even joked, if police tried to arrest him, he wants to be kept in custody at the [National Police’s Mobile Brigade] headquarters in Kelapa Dua [in Depok] so he can be close to his house,” he said.

Abraham said the KPK would continue to support Bambang even though the case against him centers on events before he joined the antigraft commission.

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