27 September 2009
Corruption at the KPK...
The fight for justice against corruption is never easy. It never has been and never will be. It exacts a toll on our self, our families, our friends, and especially our children. In the end, I believe, as in my case, the price we pay is well worth holding on to our dignity.
-- Frank Serpico
It is certainly going to be interesting to watch this particular case unfold. If for no other reason that you have two commissioners of the Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi / KPK), Chandra M Hamzah and Bibit Samad Rianto, accused of taking bribes to drop a case against a local Indonesian businessman who has since fled, and is thought to be living in Singapore.
Interesting because both successfully negotiated a very long and difficult vetting process which ultimately saw them appointed to the KPK, and by default one would have to assume that the vetting process turned up nothing of contention and certainly nothing that would have pegged them as being corrupt.
So, it appears, at least to the police, after having had long and successful careers outside of the KPK both Chandra and Bibit have turned to the dark side and take a bribe of allegedly IDR 1 billion for Chandra and IDR 1.5 billion for Bibit. Chandra allegedly collected his bribe, in cash, at Pasar Festival, and Bibit collected his at the Bellagio Residences.
This is most definitely out of character. So much so, that it seems almost impossible that the police are going to be able to put together a sustainable case. Particularly when it seems that the police have not been able to track the money nor place any other eyewitness accounts of the alleged payoffs. This is surprising for Pasar Festival as it is a place that generally has large numbers of people about.
However, the police have to have something because it would be extremely poor judgment to proceed without sufficient evidence. On the evidence front, the primary evidence is said to be an unsworn statement by the former Head of the KPK, Antasari Azhar, who is waiting to go to trial for his alleged role in a murder conspiracy.
It is a big call for the police to want to try and take these allegations all the way by filing a dossier with the Office of the Attorney General if the only "solid" evidence is an unsworn statement from an individual facing some pretty serious charges. The police have also said that they expect to file more criminal charges on top of the abuse of authority charges and the more recent bribery charges. But, they are not at liberty to disclose what those charges are likely to be.
The police case against Chandra and Bibit is simply that they abused their authority as commissioners of the KPK by seeking, obtaining, and then removing a travel ban against Anggoro Widjaja and Djoko Tjandra. Apart from some rather obvious repercussions of criminalizing administrative powers, the police case has absolutely no chance of success.
The idea that the administrative functions of public officials can be criminalized is one that even Indonesian courts will find a little repugnant. Mainly because if the courts were to accept arguments then by logical extension many, if not all, of the administrative functions of all public officials would conceivably be criminalized, perhaps even those of the president.
When the police realized the weakness of the case it was seemingly decided that there was a need to up the ante with criminal charges relating to bribery. If there is a fishy smell about this then it is that the Head of the Criminal Investigation Branch, Comr. Gen. Susno Duaji, that is investigating this alleged crime is also caught up in a KPK investigation relating to Bank Century.
Bank Century is the bank that was bailed out by the government under somewhat debatable circumstances as to the importance of the Bank to the overall Indonesian economy and during a time where the founders and upper level executives were allegedly syphoning off large sums of cash.
Therefore, it would seem to be a simple ask that the Chief of National Police, Bambang Danuri, would remove Duaji from his position in order to avoid any apparent conflict of interest. Any failure to do so will continually expose the police as a whole not only to the idea that there is a personal element of payback to this investigation, but that the police themselves are operating not solely in their own interest and the interest of the broader community, rather they have abandoned the ideal of the broader community to act on behalf of a couple of individual citizens who have fled the jurisdiction.
Perception is sometimes more powerful than the truth, the idea that the pen is mightier than the sword.