Novel Baswedan suspects plot between KPK leaders and corruptors to weaken agency

CNN Indonesia – May 26, 2021
Novel Baswedan (right) following meeting with National Human Rights Commission in Jakarta – May 24, 2021 (Antara)

Jakarta – The leadership of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has conferred with the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform (Kemenpan RB) and the State Civil Service Agency (BKN) on the fate of the 75 anti-graft agency employees who failed the pass the civics knowledge or nationalism test required for them to become state civil servants.

Based on a meeting at the BKN building on Tuesday May 25, the leaders of the three institutions decided that 24 of the 75 can be developed into state civil servants while the other 51 cannot because their status is now "red".

Senior KPK investigator Novel Baswedan said that they suspected that right from the start there was a conspiracy between the KPK leadership and corruptors. Because of this, he added, the next step by the 75 employees who failed the civics test will be to delve into the suspected conspiracy by these rogue figures.

"What's interesting is this, up until now efforts to eliminate good people inside the KPK have been done by corruptors. But this time it's the KPK leadership who are doing it, so it's interesting, isn't it", he told journalists on Tuesday.

"That's (the relationship between corruptors and the KPK leadership) what we want to dig into. So we, along with several other state institutions will conduct an investigation in the framework of confirming this. I suspect it exists, but it must be proven", he continued.

Baswedan also wants confirm the possibility that the series of actions and position taken by the KPK leadership in suspending the 75 employees was indeed planned by the commissioners to get rid of them.

They also want look into the decision by the KPK along with the BKN and the Kemenpan RB which insisted that 51 out of the 75 employees cannot return to work at the anti-graft institution. According to Baswedan, this decision is irregular.

"If these [suspicions] are true, it means that what was planned by these rogue KPK leaders is a major crime", said the former police officer who held the rank of commissioner before joining the KPK.

Baswedan believes that the whole affair is an effort to kill off corruption eradication step by step. And this, according to Baswedan, is the final stage in the effort. "And if it's asked who will be harmed? Yes, the one's who'll be harmed are all of us", he said.

Nevertheless, Baswedan confirmed that he along with other anti-corruption activists will continue to fight for the eradication of corruption until the last.

Baswedan is one of the 75 KPK employees who have been suspended for failing to pass the civics test. Today the KPK, the BKN and the Kemenpan RB decided that 51 out of the 75 cannot return to work at the KPK. It is not yet known however which other names are included among the 51.

Baswedan also believes that what happened during today's meeting at the BKN is the final phase in eliminating the KPK employees and weakening corruption eradication.

"I can clearly see that there was a special agenda by the KPK leadership to get rid of us. I say that these are rouge individuals, because I'm sure it's not all of them. With the decision earlier, the release earlier, it demonstrates that the KPK leadership does indeed have such an agenda", he told journalists.

"Meaning that I want to say that this is the final phase in eliminating any deterrent effect", he continued.

Baswedan believes that these moves were apparent since the KPK leadership signed off on Commission Regulation Number 1/2021 which determined that the civics test would be one of the grounds for determining whether KPK employees could become state civil servants.

"The commission's regulation was used as the basis, what I'm saying is there were articles slipped in by the KPK who made it. There was also the President's directions to the KPK leadership", said Baswedan.

This suspicion, he said, become even stronger after the KPK, the BKN and the Kemenpan RB ignored a statement by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo asking that the civics test not be used as a basis to sack the KPK employees.

"Meaning that this obstinacy must indeed have a link with something. Of course this is something which is important for us to see, what interests are there behind this obstinacy", added Baswedan who was once the victim of an acid attack over a high-profile corruption case he was investigating.

CNN Indonesia has tried to contact KPK Chairperson Police Commissioner General Firli Bahuri to seek clarification on the matter but he has yet to respond despite being contacted by text messages and phone calls. (fey/kid)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Novel Curiga Terjadi Persekongkolan Pimpinan KPK dan Koruptor".]