Editorial: With Budi, Indonesia at a Crossroads Now

JANUARY 16, 2015

Until the very end, Joko Widodo insisted back in May to make Abraham Samad, chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission or KPK, his running mate.

Jusuf Kalla’s name was put forward only after Megawati Soekarnoputri, chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), and Surya Paloh, chairman of National Democratic Party (Nasdem), made it clear that Abraham was not the right option.

Joko was forced to give up after realizing that he would be without party support to run for president.

While he had to accept Kalla, it shows that Joko has high trust in Abraham and the KPK. That’s why in choosing his cabinet members, Joko involved the KPK without hesitancy, resulting in uproar inside his coalition after many of their nominees were red-flagged — meaning they’re implicated in graft.

It saved Joko from several tainted figures, including Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan, who was the PDI-P’s nominee but among those red-flagged.

It’s impossible that Joko could have nominated Budi as National Police chief if he was not forced by senior members of his coalition. After the House of Representatives approved Budi’s nomination, Megawati, Surya and other leaders of the coalition met and agreed that Budi must be inaugurated quickly.

But if Budi is inaugurated, Indonesia will have a graft suspect as police chief, a humiliation for the nation, and Joko will face nationwide protest from the very people who helped him become president. Public protest and conflict between the police and the KPK will ensue.

This is at a crossroads for Indonesia, which will show if the nation should regret a vote for Joko.

Different from when he gave up on Abraham, Joko is now president. He doesn’t need to bow to anyone. It’s time to break ranks. He has little to lose, but his nation has everything to lose with Budi.