Rent-a-crowd mobilised to counter protests over KPK leadership candidates

CNN Indonesia – August 30, 2019
Rally in support of KPK selection committee – August 30, 2019 (CNN)
Rally in support of KPK selection committee – August 30, 2019 (CNN)

Jakarta – Hundreds of people and three command vehicles arrived on the grounds of the Corruption Eradication Commission’s (KPK) Red-and-White building in Jakarta at 3 pm Friday August 30.

The group brought posters with messages of support for the KPK leadership selection committee (Pansel Capim KPK) as well as posters reading, “Disband the KPK WP (KPK Employees Association)”.

According to CNN Indonesia’s observations the protesters carrying posters supporting the Pansel Capim KPK were made up of various ages, from teenagers to adults.

Speaking from atop of the command vehicle, a speaker called on non-government organisations (NGOs) and the WP KPK not to intervene in the KPK leadership selection process which is currently underway.

“Stop intervening in the Pansel Capim KPK”, shouted the speaker. As the speaker shouted their demands, the protesters held up the posters that they had brought.

When asked about the substance of the action and the group’s demands, one of the protesters – a middle-aged woman who did not want to give her name – admitted that she did not know. “I’m just going along with it, I was just invited earlier”, said the women.

While the action continued outside, a number of people suddenly tried to force their way into the Red-and-White building even though the speaker was still giving a speech.

A number of police officers tried to prevent them from entering the parking area and several of them even began pushing and shaking the fence. “Disband the WP KPK”, shouted the speaker.

“We suspect that there are efforts to scapegoat other people and even worse intervene in the Pansel KPK so that it follows their wishes”, said the speaker.

The atmosphere gradually calmed down and the protesters began taking a rest. The demonstrators which had earlier numbered in the hundreds began to drift away. Nevertheless the speaker on the command vehicle continued to shout their demands.

CNN Indonesia approached one of the resting demonstrators who was still in their teens. When asked about the demands and the reason they were protesting, the youth from Kemayoran in Central Jakarta admitted that they didn’t know. “I was just invited Bang [Brother], I just joined in”, he said briefly.

There were two different groups holding protest actions in front of the KPK building, each expressing counter views.

The first group were those supporting the Pansel Capim KPK. The second group was demanding that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo drop the names of KPK leadership candidates with a problematic track record.

The second group came from a number of NGOs such as Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), the Confederation of United Indonesian Workers (KPBI), Indonesian Prosperous Labour Union (SPSI), the All Indonesia Student Executive Council (BEM) and Greenpeace.

During the action, they held up posters containing demands and wore black headbands. According to ICW member Wana Alamsyah, the black headbands were worn as a symbol of grief over the suspected weakening of the country’s top anti-corruption institution.

“The [headbands on the] foreheads of our friends signify the fight against efforts to weaken the eradication of corruption in Indonesia”, they said in a speech.

Meanwhile Greenpeace representative Ary said that the KPK leadership selection process has not been transparent.

Not wanting to be outdone, a number of students also arrived and voiced their demands in front of the hundreds of assembled people.

BEM representative Manik Marganamahendra from the University of Indonesia (UI) said that the reason that they came to the action was because of concerns that the KPK will end up being led by people with bad track records.

“We’re concerned that among the KPK candidate leaders there are some who were involved in [corruption] or have a conflict of interest and because of this we want to monitor [the process] so that that 20 alternative capim can be selected”, he told CNN Indonesia.

As has been reported, the selection of a new batch of KPK leaders for the 2019-2023 period has attracted protests since the registration process began. A wave of protests also been heard since the selection committee passed 20 candidates at the profile assessment stage.

Among the 20 names are candidates who have failed to submit State Official Wealth Reports (LHKPN) and several who have a dark past.

The 20 candidates which have been passed have varied backgrounds. They include members of the national police (Antam Novambar, Bambang Sri Herwanto, Firli Bahuri and Sri Handayani), KPK commissioners and employees (Alexander Marwata and Sujanarko), advocates (Lili Pintauli Siregar), serving and retired state prosecutors (Johanis Tanak, Sugeng Purnomo, Supardi and Jasman Panjaitan) and a judge (Nawawi Pomolango).

In addition to this there is a state-owned enterprise employee (Cahyo R. E. Wibowo), a ministerial advisor (Jimmy Muhamad Rifai Gani), an auditor (I Nyoman Wara), state civil servants (Roby Arya and Sigit Danang Joyo) and lecturers (Luthfi Jayadi Kurniawan, Neneng Euis Fatimah and Nurul Ghufron). (sah/bmw)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Massa Pendukung Pansel Capim KPK Tak Tahu Isi dan Tujuan Demo”.]