Suspicions rife that House delaying asset seizure bill for fear it could boomerang

Source – July 13, 2023
Former Corruption Eradication Commission advisor Abdullah Hehamahua – Undated (Kompas)

Tatang Guritno and Ardito Ramadhan, Jakarta – The endless delays at the House of Representatives (DPR) in starting discussions on the Draft Law on the Seizure of Criminal Assets is believed to because of fears that the bill could come back at them and ensnare dirty politicians.

This is according to former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) advisor Abdullah Hehamahua. "If the DPR enacts the law now, it will be the same as them preparing a hanging rope for themselves. Because, they cannot account for many of the assets they have", said Hehamahua when contacted on Thursday July 13.

He also highlighted the difference in the speed of the discussions on the asset seizure bill and the Mineral and Coal Mining Law (Minerba), the Omnibus Law on Job Creation (Cipta Kerja) and the recently enacted Health Law.

According to Hehamahua, the DPR's position at the moment is simply as a "rubber stamp" for policies that benefit the government.

"The DPR at the moment is like a government funnel. So it is only natural that the DPR argues that it can only deliberate two laws in a year. Yet the Minerba Law, the amendments to the KPK Law, the Cipta Kerja Law, were enacted in a relatively short time", said Hehamahua.

Separately, Trisakti University criminal law expert Abdul Fickar Hadjar said that special pressure needs to be put on the DPR so it immediately starts to discuss the asset seizure bill.

"The public must pressure them. The asset seizure bill will greatly assist the KPK and other law enforcement agencies in the framework of recovering assets resulting from corruption and other crimes", said Hadjar.

Earlier, it was actually hoped that the DPR leadership would read out a presidential letter (surpres) approving the bill during a plenary meeting on Tuesday July 11. The moment that had long been awaited however, never transpired.

DPR Speaker Puan Maharani later explained the reason why the presidential letter on the bill has not been read out yet.

"So it's like I always say, the DPR is currently focused on being able to complete the draft laws that are with each commission, each year a maximum of two [laws can be finished] in accordance with the system of issuance", said Maharani at the DPR building in Senayan, Jakarta, last Tuesday.

If two draft laws are already completed, only then will each commission be asked to go ahead and discuss a new draft law. However, if the target of discussing two draft laws is not yet completed, then they will not go on to the next law.

Maharani said that the DPR's Commission III is currently discussing several draft laws, namely revisions to the Narcotics Law and the fourth revision to the Constructional Court Law.

According to Maharani therefore, it is best if Commission III continue to complete the discussions on the bills that are still not finished so it can focus on these.

Conversely, Commission III Deputy Chairperson Habiburokhman claims that they are ready to discuss the asset seizure law. He says that his colleagues on the commission – which overseas legal and political affairs – are always ready to accept the task of discussing draft laws.

"We're like a standby force, right, if they're included in the Pansus (special committee) or the Panja (working committee), yes we're ready to discuss it", said Habiburokhman at the parliamentary complex in Jakarta on Wednesday July 12.

Despite this, Habiburokhman said that he does not know why the DPR leadership has never tasked the house auxiliary body (AKD) to discuss the asset seizure law.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is apparently annoyed that the DPR has not discussed the bill, despite the fact that he has sent them a presidential letter and a draft text. He has stated that has often encouraged the DPR to quickly discuss the bill.

"I keep repeating it, I keep repeating, I keep repeating, yes, haven't I. It's already with the DPR. So put pressure on them (the DPR)", said Widodo after launching a program on the implementation of recommendations on the non-judicial settlement of 12 cases of past gross human rights violations in Aceh on June 27.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "DPR Tak Kunjung Bahas Draf RUU Perampasan Aset, Takut Jadi Bumerang?".]