Ihsanuddin, Jakarta – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo refused to answer a question from a journalists about progress in solving the acid attack against senor Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan. Widodo instead responded the question by talking about the makeup of the next cabinet.
This happened following a friendly meeting between Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla and the ministers which make up the Working Cabinet at the State Palace in Central Jakarta on October 18.
Initially, Widodo was explaining to journalists about the friendly meeting that had just been held. Then he talked about an evaluation of the cabinet’s work over the last five years.
The questions then turned to the announcement of a new cabinet to which Widodo asked everyone to be patient. The former Jakarta governor said that it could be announced on Sunday October 20 at his inauguration or afterwards.
“Mbok [Sister] be patient okay. At most a day or two, at most three days, then you’ll know. We may be able to (announce it) Sunday, but it could be Monday. It could be Monday, but it could also be Tuesday”, said Widodo.
But when asked about the Novel Baswedan case, Widodo did not answer. Specifically, a journalist asked about the three-month time limit that Widodo gave to National Police Chief (Kapolri) Tito Karnavian to resolve the case.
Although the time limit will expire tomorrow on Saturday, Widodo did not answer the question and instead continued talking about the announcement of the cabinet and asking the public to be patient.
“Later okay, as I conveyed earlier, wait, be patient”, he said.
Previously Widodo asked for the police to form a technical team to solve the Baswedan case within three months. This was conveyed by Widodo at the State Palace on Friday July 19.
“Yesterday the Kapolri asked for six months, I said that in three months the technical team must be able to resolve what was conveyed earlier (by the TGPF)”, said Widodo at the time.
However Widodo was reluctant to speculate on whether or not he would form an independent team if the Baswedan case was not solved after the three months. Earlier, Baswedan and anti-corruption activists had urged Widodo to form an independent team.
“I gave him three months, then after three months I will see what the results are like”, said Widodo.
Baswedan had acid thrown on his face by an unknown person on April 11, 2017. At the time, he had just finished dawn prayers at the Al Ihsan Mosque near his home in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta. Baswedan’s eyes were severely injured in the attack.
After months of investigation, the earlier Joint Fact Finding Team (TGPF) formed by Karnavian failed to uncover the perpetrator of the attack. Karnavian then formed a technical team to follow up on the findings of the TGPF.
The acid attack on Baswedan is widely believed to be related to an investigation which Baswedan and the KPK were conducting into dozens of senior politicians involved in the e-KTP electronic ID card corruption scandal. Under mounting public pressure, in December 2018 the government formed a Joint Fact Finding Team (TGPF) to investigate the case involving the KPK, experts and senior police officials – despite the fact that on several occasions Baswedan has said that he suspects a senior “police general” was the behind the attack – and the very reason many believe police have made no progress in the case. When the TGPF finally announced its findings, other than reaffirming that the attack was related to the e-KTP case Baswedan was working on, it failed to identify the perpetrator and added little to what was already publically known about the case.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Ditanya Kasus Novel, Jokowi Malah Jawab soal Kabinet”.]