Civics test given to vet KPK employees resembles New Order screening: Amnesty

Source – May 5, 2021
KPK employees protest against revisions to KPK Law – September 6, 2019 (Merdeka)

Guritno, Jakarta – Amnesty International Indonesia Executive Director Usman Hamid said that a civics or nationalism test (TWK) cannot be used as a pretext to sideline Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) employees who have different political views from the government.

Hamid said that if this is done, it means that the Indonesian government is turning the clock back to the era before reformasi – the political reform process that began in 1998.

"It's the same as going back to the pre-reformasi era, the 1990s to be precise, when all civil servants had to go through the litsus or special investigation or clean environment [screening] which was discriminative", Hamid told on Wednesday May 5.

Hamid's statement was in response to information on the materials in the civics test taken by KPK employees the contents of which tended towards questions about religion and personal political views.

Hamid continued saying that if this information is correct then it is a form of human rights violation.

"Discriminating against employs because of their ideas and religious or personal political beliefs is clearly a violation of freedom of thought, freedom of conscience, religion and beliefs", said Hamid.

"This clearly violate civil rights and represents the arbitrary stigmatisation of a group", he said.

According to international human rights standards as well as Indonesian law, continued Hamid, employees should be assessed based on their performance and competence, not the purity of their ideology.

"In the past, litsus such as this gave rise to ideological problems in education and estranged many people who [failed] to meet the criteria as civil servants as a consequence of criteria which was unclear and applied unevenly. Why just the KPK? What's going on", he said.

On the issue of the civics test which contains questions about religion and personal political ideas, according to Hamid this is an attempt at ideological screening and is a step back for the respect of human rights.

"Ideological screening allegedly done through the nationalism test such as this truly represents a step back in respecting human rights in this country, and at the same time reminds us again of the repression of the New Order [regime of former president Suharto], when litsus was used to ostracise people suspected of involvement with the Indonesian Communist Party", he said.

As has been reported, a number of KPK employees have revealed irregularities in the material contained in the civics test for KPK employees whose status is to be changed to state civil servants.

The irregularities are related to questions about Islamic qunut nazilah prayers to ward off disasters and attitudes towards Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people.

According to a source who declined to give their name, there were odd questions which had to be answered by test participants.

Participants were asked to choose their position on statements in the test. The choices were whether or not they very much agreed, agreed, were neutral, disagreed and strongly disagreed with a number of issues.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "TWK Dinilai Mirip Screening PNS Era Orba, Amnesty: Kenapa Hanya KPK?".]