Editorial: Budi Delay a Step in the Right Direction

JANUARY 17, 2015

Observers and other concerned members of the public have closely followed the case of Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan in the past week — the top police officer who was nominated by President Joko Widodo to become the chief of National Police but who just days afterward was named a suspect by the nation’s highly respected Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

What seems to be bothering people most is the apparent pressure on Joko from senior members of his coalition to inaugurate Budi — more so than the general’s financial track record. People have started to lose trust in the man who once promised to do things differently from his predecessors.

Budi was a close aide to current Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri during her presidency (2001-2004), but appointing the chief of National Police is the prerogative of the nation’s current president, and not its fifth.

Regardless of what — or who — was behind Budi’s nomination, Joko’s announcement on Friday to delay his appointment was a much-needed step in the right direction.

As we said earlier, Indonesia is at a crossroads and the president should place the interest of the people ahead of that of his political patrons. He has done so before by letting the KPK investigate would-be members of his cabinet and seems willing to do so again this time.

The announced delay gives the KPK time to prepare its case against Budi and may serve to buy time to find a graceful way out of the National Police succession debacle.

Joko stressed on Friday that the appointment was delayed and not canceled — but hopefully that, too, is just a matter of time.