Graft watchdog asks top minister not to talk about things he doesn't understand

Detik News – July 19, 2023
Indonesian Corruption Watch researcher Kurnia Ramadhana – Undated (Detik)

Arief Ikhsanudin, Jakarta – Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has asked why the number of sting operations (OTT) conducted by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) continues to be showcased as a measure of performance.

Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) has responded by asking Pandjaitan not to speak carelessly about sting operations by the KPK.

"ICW would hope that Brother Luhut not speak carelessly. If you do not understand an issue, it's better to study it first", said ICW researcher Kurnia Ramadhana when contacted on Tuesday July 18.

For ICW, the prosecution and prevention of corruption cases have the same level of importance, and no process is more important than the other.

"ICW advises Brother Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan to be more active in reading literature on eradicating corruption. Because, what he conveyed about prosecution being the last resort, that is completely wrong. Corruption eradication cannot be seen as prioritising prevention, but must go hand in hand with prosecution", he said.

According to Ramadhana, sting operations are a legal process guaranteed by law. He admitted that he did not understand the intention of Pandjaitan's statement when he referred to the "drama" of prosecuting cases.

"ICW also does not understand what Brother Luhut means by the word 'drama' in the prosecution of corruption. Because, prosecution efforts are a legal process guaranteed by legislation. Moreover, the end result of prosecution is the trial process. Does he mean that 'drama' is the legal proceedings before a court? If that's what he means, then Brother Luhut is belittling the law", he said.

For ICW, the handling of corruption in Indonesia has reached an alarming phase. This has been marked by the drop in Indonesia's Corruption Perception Index in 2022, as well as various internal problems within the KPK.

"The Corruption Perception Index dropped in 2022, from 38 to 34. In addition to this, the public no longer trusts the KPK that Brother Luhut is boasting about. So then, what's there to be proud of? The quality of enforcement is poor, the numbers are low, and there's been a series of ethical code violations by both the leadership and employees, which occur alternately", he said.

Previously, Pandjaitan spoke about the sting operations conducted by the KPK. Pandjaitan is of the view that the decline in the number of sting operations shows that the KPK's performance has improved.

"If there are no OTT, that's in fact better. It means that prevention efforts have improved", said Pandjaitan at the KPK building in South Jakarta on Tuesday.

This year, the KPK has only conducted three sting operations. But Pandjaitan has enthusiastically welcomed the law enforcement system being pursued by the KPK.

He said he was surprised that the crackdown on corruption in Indonesia is still showcased by the many sting operations.

"Indeed, there shouldn't be a need to conduct frequent OTTs. Why do we have to showcase these OTTs like that? OTTs amounting to 50 million, 100 million. Have we never talked about how much money they have saved in trillions [of rupiah]?", explained Luhut.

In particular, Pandjaitan praised the performance of KPK Deputy for Prevention and Monitoring Pahala Nainggolan. He said he appreciates the system of prevention that had been developed by Nainggolan at the KPK.

"Pahala cooperates with me. I reported to the president that the work of Pahala and [KPK Chairperson] Firli [Bahuri] is very good and deserves appreciation. In my opinion, they have both done an extraordinary job", said Pandjaitan. (aik/aud)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "ICW Minta Luhut Tak Asal Bicara soal OTT KPK".]