Former KPK commissioner says anti-graft agency paralysed under Jokowi's watch

Source – December 4, 2023
Former KPK commissioner Busyro Muqoddas speaking in Malang – November 12, 2023 (Kompas)

Aryo Putranto Saptohutomo, Jakarta – Former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) commissioner Busyro Muqoddas says that the government under President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's leadership has paralysed the anti-graft agency through a number of strategies.

"The status of the KPK is that it has now been paralysed during the era of President Jokowi. Not just weakened", said Moqoddas during a webinar discussion titled Twilight in the Era of Strengthening the KPK organised by Transparency International Indonesia (TII) in Jakarta on Monday December 4.

Muqoddas shared his experiences as a KPK commissioner during the era of Widodo's predecessor former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY). He said that at that time there were various attempts to paralyse the KPK through revisions to the KPK Law.

However, said Muqoddas, the efforts to weaken the KPK at that time were able to be confronted.

"We resisted in a civilised way based on the strength of a solid civil society at that time, which at that time was united with the KPK", said Muqoddas.

"In the end SBY backed down. He said to stop the revisions to the KPK Law and this was proven by his resoluteness", he added.

Muqoddas, who is currently the chairperson of the Muhammadiyah Central Board Legal Division, said that the KPK was in fact paralysed during the era of Widodo's administration through various means.

The first means, said Muqoddas, was the KPK was paralysed as an institution through revisions to the KPK Law. Eventually, Law Number 30/2002 was replaced by Law Number 19/2019.

"With this new law the KPK as an institution was no longer independent. As was expected", he said.

The second step, continued Muqoddas, was when the government forced through changes to the status of KPK employees so they became state civil servants (ASN).

"Where are there ASN in law enforcement, in the corruption field, that can be independent? Of course there are, but the quality is different", he said.

The third thing according to Muqoddas that reinforces the conclusion that the KPK was [intentionally] weakened was that its commissioners agreed that all employees had to undergo a civics knowledge test (TWK).

As a consequence of the TWK, a number of KPK employees failed to pass the test and were eventually dismissed.

"The civics knowledge test was conducted but in the end it was a manipulation in the name of nationalism to expel, dismiss [the KPK employees], in a really cunning way. In the end there were dismissals done in a procedural manner, but actually in moral terms it very much contradicted the principals of transparency", said Muqoddas.

As has been reported, the KPK is currently under the spotlight because its chairperson, Firli Bahuri, has been suspended after being declared a suspect by the Metro Jaya regional police over the alleged extortion of former Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo, who has also been charged in relation to a separate corruption case.

In addition to this, former KPK chairperson Agus Rahardjo has recently made claims in relation to the handling of the 2017 electronic ID card (e-KTP) corruption case.

During an interview on the Kompas TV Rosi talk-show last week, Rahardjo said that President Widodo summoned him to the Presidential Palace after the KPK declared  Setya Novanto a suspect in the e-KTP case on July 17, 2017. At the meeting, said Rahardjo, Widodo angrily ordered him to stop the investigation into Novanto.

At the time Novanto was the speaker of the House of Representatives (DPR) and chairperson of the Golkar Party, one of the political parties supporting the government coalition.

However, Rahardjo told Widodo that the KPK could not stop the investigation because it did not have the authority to issue an order for termination of investigation (SP3).

Rahardjo said that after this the relationship between the KPK and Widodo became distant and Widodo did not want to meet the KPK leadership. He suspects that this was behind one of a series of revisions to the KPK Law – allowing the KPK to terminate an investigation.

Moreover, according to Rahardjo, at that time the KPK also found it difficult to meet with Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Hamonangan Laoly in order to ask for a copy of the draft revisions to the KPK Law.

Despite this, State Secretary Minister Pratikno denies that a meeting ever took place between Widodo and Rahardjo to discuss the Novanto problem.

Presidential Expert Staff Coordinator Ari Dwipayana has also denied that Widodo intervened in the Novanto case because the legal process continued and Novanto was sentenced to 15 years in prison over the e-KTP corruption case.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Busyro Muqoddas: KPK Sudah Dilumpuhkan di Era Presiden Jokowi".]