Firli Bahuri walks pass in the State Palace for his inauguration as the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman on Friday, (B1 Photo/Joanito De Saojoao)

New KPK Boss Not Interested in 'Noisy Graft Busts'

DECEMBER 22, 2019

Jakarta. Newly-appointed Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Chairman Firli Bahuri said he was not interested in making a big fuss over the commission’s graft busts and that he would rather take preventive measures involving all elements of the society.

Firli, who was inaugurated by the president on Friday, also said he welcomed the establishment of the maiden oversight body inside the KPK amid opposing voices.

“Law enforcement should not cause a commotion. But it must create legal certainty for 
witnesses, victims, suspects and other related persons; secondly, it must deliver justice; and thirdly it must have the benefits. Nothing in the law says anything about noise,” Firli said in a special interview with Beritasatu TV’s Claudius Boekan aired on Friday night.

“Throughout 2018, the KPK conducted 30 raids with 122 suspects, including 20 regional government heads and many councilors and members of the House of Representatives.  But why didn’t our corruption perception index improve? Something went wrong here,” the former South Sumatra police chief said.

According to him, more graft busts would only prove further that the preventive task had failed.

“Yes people would prefer us to carry out more graft busts, but actually they will only show that the prevention jobs don’t make effects. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we will not arrest suspects anymore,” he said.

Firli said he would ask the Education and Culture Ministry to issue modules in anti-corruption subjects and invite religious leaders to join the campaign as well. 

He would also encourage all political parties to stick to moral values. He mentioned the notorious practice by political parties who charged money on people coming to apply for legislative or government posts.

“So that nobody needs to give a ‘dowry’ [to become candidates], and we can vote for a district head, governor or mayor merely because of their programs and ideas,” he said.

Rp 1 billion and Above

Firli, who has spent 16 months as KPK’s law enforcement deputy until last year, said his leadership would strictly follow the law in combating corruption.

Article 11 of the 2019 law on KPK stipulates that the commission could only investigate a corruption case involving law enforcement officials and state employees with an estimated state loss of at least Rp 1 billion, he said.

Otherwise, the commission should hand the case to the police or prosecutor’s office.

“Law enforcement is not a simple matter of sending people to prison. We must also consider how much state assets that we can recover,” he said.

Oversight Body

The inauguration of the five-member KPK leadership board was held in the same day with the establishment of first-ever oversight body led by former KPK chairman Tumpak Hatorangan Panggabean.

The oversight body, an implementation of the recently amended KPK law, is tasked with supervising the work of KPK investigators with a power to issue permit for wiretaps, searches and assets seizure.

Firli stressed that the new body was badly needed by the KPK to prevent abuse of power inside the commission.

“There is no state agency that works without any supervision. In fact, all [state agencies] have a supervisory body,” Firli said.

He dismissed concerns among anti-graft activists that the oversight body would dismantle KPK’s authorities and erode its independence, saying instead that the commission badly needed supervision to remain accountable. 

“[The KPK] has been without any direct supervision so far, as it was not regulated under the previous law,” he said.

Opposing Camp

Firli played down reports that many KPK employees opposed his return to the commission as leader. At least eight KPK investigators have reportedly submitted resignation in protest to his arrival.

“It’s their personal choice. When I served as deputy, three employees resigned for various reasons: one employee resigned to get married, another left the KPK because he got a new job at Bank Mandiri, and the third person took a new career in endangered animal rescue works,” he said.

On reports that the KPK employees’ union has been so powerful that they take control of the commissioners, Firli expressed disapproval.

“It’s not like that. I have spent one year, four months and 12 days there and I interacted with them on a daily basis. There’s nothing to worry about because we all share the same goals,” he said.