National Police chief candidate Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan, second right, speaking with lawmakers at the House of Representatives' building during Thursday's plenary session. (Antara Photo/Wahyu Putro)

Joko Faces Crisis After Plenary Endorses Budi Gunawan

BY :MARKUS JUNIANTO SIHALOHO

JANUARY 15, 2015

Jakarta. The House of Representatives approved Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan as Indonesia's next National Police chief on Thursday, leaving President Joko Widodo facing a crisis.

House Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, gave the green light to Budi, who was Joko's sole nominee for National Police chief, on Wednesday, just days after he was named a corruption suspect by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

Today, a plenary meeting endorsed the decision of Commission III — leaving Budi's fate back in the hands of the president.

"We rushed to approve [the nomination] and return the 'hot potato' to the one who threw it first," Bambang Soesatyo, a member of the commission, told Detik.com. "Now it's up to the president."

Joko is now stuck between endorsing a graft suspect and an embarrassing about-face.

The predicament was not lost on Bambang, a Golkar lawmaker from the opposition Red-White Coalition.

"It's up to him whether to inaugurate [Budi], but NGOs will criticize him and he will face the KPK and its supporters.

"But, if he chooses to cancel Budi Gunawan, he'll face the PDI-P [the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle] and Budi's supporters," he said.

The KPK, meanwhile, said the arrest of Budi was imminent, regardless of the House's decision to clear him for the post.

"The KPK has named him a suspect, when the documents are 50 percent ready he will definitely be arrested," KPK chief Abraham Samad said on Thursday, as quoted by Detik.com.

The anti-graft agency is working hard to conclude the investigation and end the controversy surrounding the case, Abraham said. Claims that the case against Budi is politically motivated were shot down by the KPK chief.

"This is purely law enforcement and not because of a political consideration," Abraham said.

The decision to name Budi a suspect follows a six-month investigation into irregularities in his bank accounts, which were first flagged as problematic in 2010 by the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK), the government’s money-laundering watchdog.

If found guilty, he faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

Abraham said he was confident investigators would wrap up the case quickly, saying it was a simple criminal case.

"Why does the case seems big? Because the suspect has great power ... but this is a simple crime case, it's traditional and conventional," he said.

The Democratic Party and the National Mandate Party (PAN) were the only parties to oppose the endorsement, House Deputy Speaker Taufik Kurniawan said.

Members of the PAN faction called for a meeting between DPR leaders and the president, while the Democratic Party has asked that Budi's inauguration be delayed.

"The current chief, Gen. Sutarman, can still do his job until Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan's case is cleared," said Benny K. Harma, who leads the Democratic Party in the House.

"Sutarman's tenure hasn't ended yet, he hasn't resigned or come to retirement age either. He has no obstacle nor has he been convicted."

Sutarman is not due to retire until October.

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