Editorial: Nomination of New Police Chief Dubious

JANUARY 12, 2015

If there is any hope that the National Police will be reformed under President Joko Widodo then we should bury it deep for at least another five years after the nomination of Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan as the chief.

Joko’s decision to nominate Budi is a betrayal of his own pledge of clean government. We are wondering how a president as clean as Joko can nominate a police general accused of having suspicious bank accounts of hundreds of billions rupiah to head such an important institution.

After the disappointing appointment of a politician with poor track record to become the attorney general, this nomination is another huge blow to the nation’s law enforcement efforts. It is another horse-trading move.

Whether or not Budi has been taking bribes or stealing state money, Joko should take media reports and opinion from credible state institutions, such as the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK), into account.

The KPK has red-flagged Budi — implying that he is allegedly involved in corruption — when he was nominated as a minister, while the PPATK reported that he has fat bank accounts containing at least Rp 54 billion ($4.2 million).

Police are key to Indonesia’s law enforcement without which the country’s democratization will be put to a halt. If the police stay on their current track, then Indonesia will continue to have weak law enforcement.

To put it in perspective, survey after survey has placed the police as one of the country’s most corrupt institutions every year.

Even under the command of an officer with a clean track record, the police are unlikely to reform. And it’s impossible under one with dubious track record.