Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Tedjo Edhy Purdijanto, center, seen with other members of the National Police Commission. (Antara Photo/Andika Wahyu)

Security Minister Roasted for Belittling KPK Supporters as 'Unimportant'

JANUARY 25, 2015

Jakarta. Activists have lashed out at chief security minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno after he accused the national antigraft commission of inciting the public into taking its side in a contentious spat with the police force.

“We are ashamed of having a coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs who acts like this,” Emerson Yuntho, from Indonesia Corruption Watch, a nongovernmental group, said at a rally on Sunday in support of the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK.

“[Tedjo] should be working to safeguard the political and security conditions instead of stirring up problems. That was a misleading statement,” Emerson added.

Tedjo drew the ire of activists and the Indonesian public alike on Saturday when he chided KPK chairman Abraham Samad for rallying the public to support the antigraft commission, following the police’s arrest on Friday, and conditional release several hours later, of KPK deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto in connection with a refiled perjury complaint dating back to 2010.

Abraham had implored hundreds of people who had flocked to the KPK building on Friday in a show of support to trust in the KPK and help safeguard the justice system in Indonesia.

Tedjo, though, called Abraham’s statement “childish.”

“Do not provoke the masses by telling them ‘Let’s do this!’ or ‘Let’s do that!’,” he said at the State Palace in Central Jakarta, prior to a meeting with President Joko Widodo. “That statement is childish.”

He added the KPK would only be strong if it “complies with the Constitution” instead of “getting support from those unimportant people.”

Thousands of Indonesians took to Twitter to slam the minister for his remarks, with hashtags such as #Tedjo and #SaveKPK among the top trending topics on Twitter in Indonesia on Sunday.

Supporters of the KPK also took to the streets of Jakarta, Bandung and Makassar on Sunday, many of them holding banners that read “Unimportant People in Support of KPK, #SaveKPK.”

ICW’s Emerson, speaking at one such rally in Jakarta, denounced Tedjo’s remarks as going against President Joko’s own injunction on Friday for officials to refrain from making any statements that would inflame the tensions between the KPK and the police.

The KPK has also responded to the minister’s statement.

“Let the public be the judge of whether it is proper for a minister to make such a statement,” said Johan Budi, the KPK deputy for corruption prevention, adding that the antigraft commission had not organized the huge outpouring of support shown for it.

The crowd outside the KPK office on Friday also blocked police from raiding deputy chairman Bambang’s office in connection with their surprise investigation.

Bambang stands accused by a legislator from the Indonesian Democratic Party, or PDI-P, of compelling witnesses to perjure themselves during hearings over a district election dispute in 2010. Bambang at the time was a lawyer for one of the parties in the dispute, who was eventually declared the winner of the election.

The case was dropped by the police after the Constitutional Court ruled on the dispute, but was refiled by the PDI-P official, Sugianto Sabran, earlier this month, following the KPK’s decision to name Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan, President Joko Widodo’s sole candidate for National Police chief, a graft suspect.

Joko, from the PDI-P, has since put off the process of naming a new police chief. Budi previously served as the security aide to Joko’s political patron, PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri.