Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan talks to journalists after completing the fit-and-proper test at the House of Representatives building in Jakarta, on Jan. 14, 2015. (JG Photo/Afriadi Hikmal)

Jokowi Squashes Gossip of Budi Gunawan Inauguration


JANUARY 30, 2015

Jakarta. President Joko Widodo dismissed rumors that he would soon inaugurate Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan as police chief, a decision which has cost the president his popularity and garnered him political backlash.

Joko has come under fire for delaying Budi’s inauguration after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named the police general as a graft suspect and activists called on the president to abandon the plan altogether.

But Budi’s supporters, including members of Joko’s own Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), argued that the president would only jeopardize relations with the legislature, which endorsed Budi’s nomination as the nation’s top cop.

State Secretary Pratikno on Thursday morning announced that Joko was scheduled to inaugurate a top official that very same day, but stopped short of naming who and for what post, prompting speculations that it could be Budi.

Joko quickly put the rumors to rest, saying he was still waiting for an update on Budi’s legal battles.

“We must respect the ongoing legal processes. Remember that a motion for a pre-trial has been filed,” Joko said. “So please wait.”

By law, a suspect can file a pre-trial motion to the court, challenging law enforcers’ decision to charge the suspect.

Budi has filed such a motion only to withdraw it days later. National Police’s legal team, however, has not made its move.

In what many see as retaliation, the National Police charged KPK deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto for allegedly suborning perjury from a client he represented as an attorney in an election case that the Constitutional Court tried five years ago.

Joko has formed a nine-member independent team tasked with reviewing the legal processes inside the nation’s two top law enforcement agencies, including steps  that led each to pursue criminal charges against the others’ leadership.

The ad hoc committee on Wednesday recommended that Joko should not go ahead with the inauguration, while urging him to name another candidate.

The team’s stance reportedly differs from that of elites inside the PDI-P and its coalition partners.

Budi served as security aide to former President Megawati Soekarnoputri, who is the PDI-P chairwoman.

Joko said on Thursday that he has not decided whether he would act on the team’s recommendation.

“I have received so many suggestions;  from the team of nine, from the presidential advisory body,” Joko said.

“I will consider them all and I understand all of their arguments. I will decide eventually — don’t rush me.”

However, signs suggesting that Joko may drop Budi as a candidate for police chief have recently emerged.

On Thursday evening, Joko summoned all members of the National Police Commission (Kompolnas), a government-sanctioned oversight body with the sole authority to vet police chief candidates.

Kompolnas commissioner Adrianus Meliala revealed that Joko had asked for the names of additional candidates, but underlined that the president was merely considering his options.

“We have advised him on the pros and cons [of each candidate], but no conclusion has been made,” Adrianus said.

Despite the independent team’s suggestions, Budi is refusing to back down, said his lawyer, Razman Nasution, who accused its members of siding with the KPK.