Jakarta – Former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan says that the current state of the KPK, which has been in the public spotlight over problems ranging from the leadership down to the staff level, was predictable back in 2019.
Baswedan said the problems started with the revisions to the KPK Law in 2019 which positioned the KPK as part of the executive wing of government and turned KPK staff members into state civil servants (ASN).
"We predicted the current state [of the KPK] back in 2019, when the independence of KPK staff was destroyed by positioning them as state civil servants", Baswedan told CNN Indonesia on Wednesday June 28.
In addition to this, he also believes that the damage that has been done to the KPK was caused by the selection of a problematic leadership. According to Baswedan, it is as if the KPK leadership is competing with each other to create problems.
"We began to see the consequences of the damage that occurred when the KPK leadership seemed to be competing to create problems, both in the form of ethical as well as criminal violations", he said.
He also criticised the role of the KPK Supervisory Board (Dewas) which has been unable to do much in the face of the violations committed by the KPK leadership.
Baswedan believes that the KPK Supervisory Board appears to be neglecting or covering up the violations. According to Baswedan, these include violations against integrity, which were strongly defended by KPK in the past.
"This situation has of course spread or been imitated by other [KPK] staff because it is as if they've been given latitude with the perception of a Dewas that is weak or permissive about the violations committed", he said.
Novel is concerned that the many internal problems in the KPK will impact upon corruption eradication in Indonesia.
"I'm worried that this will continue and violations or corruption crimes committed internally in the KPK will affect corruption eradication in general", said Baswedan.
The KPK under the leadership of Chairperson Firli Bahuri has been in the public spotlight recently. Bahuri has, on a number of occasions, been reported over cases of alleged ethical violations. Several of these are being investigated as criminal cases.
In addition to this, several cases that have ensnared KPK staff have been publically exposed, including illegal levies (pungli) at the KPK detention centre, immoral crimes against detainees' wives and the embezzlement of official funds. (psr/tsa)
In 2015, former KPK chairperson Abraham Samad and his deputy Bambang Widjojanto – known for their aggressive prosecution of corrupt officials – were "suspended" by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo after they were arrested on trumped up charges – that the police later dropped – and replaced them with more "compliant" interim chiefs. In 2019 Widodo chose Firli Bahuri as the new KPK chairperson despite his chequered past of ethical violations and links with corrupt officials. The KPK was further weakened in late 2019 by the enactment of the revised KPK Law that was rushed through parliament in the face of widespread and often violent public opposition. The law also mandated that all KPK staff become civil servants, removing their independence and placing them under the authority of the executive. And in what was seen as the final step in taming the KPK, in 2021 Bahuri removed 75 of the KPK's most respected investigators – including Novel Baswedan – who had opposed the revisions to the KPK law and his leadership of the KPK.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Novel Baswedan: Kondisi KPK Sekarang Sudah Diprediksi Sejak 2019".]