Police officers raided the office of SKK Migas on Tuesday to investigate allegations of corruption and money laundering. (Antara Photo/Imam)

Stepping Up Graft War, Police May Oust KPK

MAY 07, 2015

Jakarta. The police have revealed that they are investigating the high-profile graft case revolving around the acquisition of uninterruptible power supply units for Jakarta schools — among other cases — leading activists to conclude that the institution may be attempting take over the role of the nation’s respected anti-corruption agency.

Officers have also indicated that they would investigate other corruption cases, including at the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry’s upstream oil and gas regulator (SKK Migas).

Activists have applauded the law enforcers’ recent moves, calling however on the police to more actively and consistently fight corruption in the future.

The chairman of rights group Setara Institute, Hendardi, said the police’s recent scrutiny into graft allegations surrounding the procurement of UPS devices last year could prove wrong those who had long discredited the police force as an institution rife with corruption and one that offered poor public service.

“This is an antithesis to the public judgement, in which [the] police’s capability in handling graft cases has often been doubted,” Hendardi told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday.

“Police seem to want to gain the public trust and reform their image, which has been damaged by corruption cases,” the activist added.

He also said that the UPS graft investigation may be a sign from the police that they don’t want the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to be the sole legal institution that tackles graft in Indonesia.

“They [want to show] that they can do it, too,” Hendardi said.

He added, though, that if police wanted to earnestly win back the public trust, they must not discriminate and select certain cases only, while abandoning others.

He also warned police against handling the UPS case merely for the sake of restoring their tainted image after a major conflict with the KPK — following the latter’s naming of the then-police chief candidate, Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan, as a bribery suspect in January.

Police have since launched investigations into KPK leaders over a series of old cases, leading to the suspension of some, including chairman Abraham Samad.

This move has been widely seen as retalation for naming Budi a suspect.

“Police need to continue to handle cases indiscriminately,” Hendardi added. “They must also deal with cases of violence and criminalization committed by their own officers.”

Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) researcher Emerson Yuntho said police must conduct the UPS investigation as part of their job as a law enforcement institution, but expressed doubt that their motives were solely to uphold the law.

“That’s a positive move by police. Why now, though? They should have done [something like this] years ago,” Emerson said on Thursday.

ICW has been among the loudest critics of the police’s alleged criminalization attempts against KPK officials.

“The question is whether the police truly want to eradicate corruption or if they just want to show off, for certain purposes,” Emerson added.

Emerson also said that there has been an assumption growing among the public that the police’s current show of force in the UPS case was intended to slowly eliminate the KPK’s functions.

“Given the institution’s history, it’s normal that many doubt their motives in eradicating corruption. [There is an assumption] that they want to take over the KPK’s authority in dealing with graft cases,” the activist added.

Emerson said that when the KPK was established as an ad-hoc agency in 2002, this was in response to the police being seen as a failure in fighting graft cases, tarnished with internal corruption and with a low capacity to enforce the law.

It turned out that the ad-hoc agency was able to do its job very well, as it is now embraced by the public and feared among officials.

KPK prosecutors have sent to jail hundreds of corrupt government officials, including a number of cabinet ministers, police generals and regional heads, as well as senior officials from political parties.

National Police Commission (Kompolnas) member Adrianus Meliala, though, said  the police were simply doing their job.

“There’s nothing extraordinary about the police performance lately. They’re merely doing their job as law enforcers; nothing more,” Adrianus said on Thursday. “The people often subject the police to baseless opinions. When police investigate one case that  involves certain people, they allege this is criminalization.”

“[The police] have to remember that [corruption] eradication is under the KPK’s supervision. So when police or the AGO [Attorney General’s Office] investigates one [graft] case, it must be supervised by the KPK,” legal expert Todung Mulya Lubis said, adding that the three institutions must improve their coordination and put their institutional egos aside.

“Corruption eradication doesn’t need rivalry. The three agencies must unite and establish fair coordination. We don’t need any more drama ... It must be stopped,” Todung said.