Chief security minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, right, wants no background checks for the next military chief's track record on human rights or money laundering. (Antara Photo/Andika Wahyu)

No Need to Check TNI Candidates' Records on Rights or Finances, Minister says

JUNE 06, 2015

Jakarta. Indonesia’s security chief says there is no need for the country’s next military commander to be vetted by the national human rights commission or the government’s money-laundering watchdog, in the government’s latest apparent dismantling of oversight measures for key appointments.

Such background checks as proposed by antigraft and rights activists are unnecessary because the candidates have already filed wealth reports, says Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, the coordinating minister for political, security and legal affairs. He also said the checks of the candidates’ track records by the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and of their wealth by the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK) were not needed because they would be vetted by the House of Representatives.

The House in January approved a corruption suspect for nomination as police chief. The candidate, Budi Gunawan, was later withdrawn by the president. (It was a PPATK report in 2010 that led to Budi being named a suspect.)

Tedjo told reporters in Bogor on Friday that the next TNI commander “won’t have to have their track record verified by any agency” because the president was sure to pick the best candidate.

“It’s the president [who picks the TNI chief], so if anything happens the president will be responsible,” he said as quoted by Tempo.

Any background checks, he said, should be limited to the latest wealth reports already filed by the candidates with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

Tedjo was responding to calls by the rights group Imparsial for tighter oversight of the nomination of individuals for key posts, following the Budi Gunawan fiasco.

While Budi, no longer a graft suspect thanks to a highly questionable court ruling, was thwarted in his bid to become the police chief, he remains in line for the job after being promoted as deputy to the new chief, Badrodin Haiti, who retires early next year.

Tedjo’s insistence that no background checks are needed for the next TNI chief reflects a growing tendency by the administration of President Joko Widodo to dismantling established systems of checks and balances in the vetting of officials for key posts, starting with the nomination of Budi, seen as a political concession to the president’s patron, Megawati Soekarnoputri.

On Friday, the selection committee formed by Joko to vet candidates for the KPK leadership granted the police an unprecedented say in the selection of the new anti-corruption commissioners.

This is the first time in the 12-year history of the antigraft commission that the police, widely perceived as the most corrupt institution in the republic, have been invited by the selection committee to play a part in the vetting process.

The selection of the next TNI chief is seen as particularly critical this time around because of the Joko administrations focus on building Indonesia’s maritime capabilities, including naval defense. The current TNI commander, Gen. Moeldoko, retires at the start of August, and the three officers eligible to replace him are the chiefs of staff of the Army, Navy and Air Force. Under the rotation system currently in use, it is the Air Force chief, Air Marshal Agus Supriatna, who is due to become the next TNI chief, but observers say the president is likely to favor the Navy’s Admiral Ade Supandi, to reflect his wider policy of developing Indonesia as a global maritime fulcrum.