31 October 2009
All of the strides that Indonesia had made towards preventing and, ultimately, seeking to eliminate corruption are rapidly being undone. The arrest of Chandra Hamzah and Bibit Samad Rianto is proof of the rapid demise of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the rise of the police and the Office of the Attorney General as the lead corruption fighters.
This does not bode well for future corruption eradication efforts as both the police and the office of the attorney general are tainted with numerous corruption scandals and abuse of power. The arrest of Chandra and Bibit is just another one in a long line of scandals.
The fact that the president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono or SBY, gave a press conference indicating that he would not be interfering in the process. Strange because he has already imposed himself on the process when he issued an interim law to appoint three new, albeit temporary, commissioners to the KPK. So, to say he would not interfere seems a little strange.
Nevertheless, the president is probably still smarting from the slap down that the Constitutional Court handed him when it held that the interim law and that any dismissal of Chandra and Bibit did not fit within the confines of the constitution until such time as a court case had been concluded.
The president is also smarting because a transcript of an alleged wiretap highlighting that the police and the office of the attorney general conspired to frame Chandra and Bibit has surfaced. Why is he smarting? Maybe because his name came up as being aware of the frame.
Although the president has said he will not interfere in the process, he has nevertheless instructed the Chief of Police to take all necessary steps to uncover the wiretapper and bring them to justice. Sounds a little like closing the barn door once the horse has bolted. But, Mr. President, it is time to clean this mess up, isn't it?
What is truly bizarre about this case is that Chandra and Bibit have been officially arrested for abusing their statutory powers to issue and revoke travel bans on suspected corruptors. It is not rocket science to work out that this is an administrative law issue. It is not rocket science to work out that the criminalization of administrative powers and authorities is a slippery slope that the police, of all institutions, do not want to find themselves on.
Once this case unfolds and Chandra and Bibit are found to not have abused their statutory power, perhaps they can then launch criminal actions against the police for their obvious abuse of power, particularly now that the president, the attorney general, and the police have sort to allow the criminalization of administrative power.
Perhaps the people of Sidoarjo need to launch some criminal action against the president for his administrative failures over the mud extrusion, which has seen the victims not receive their due compensation despite the president in effect setting out how that compensation was to be calculated and awarded.
On the funny side, in that perversely funny kind of a way, the police have thrown a huge number of resources at trying to create a case that both Chandra and Bibit took bribes. They have obviously failed to make the grade on this one, as the arrest warrant was for an alleged abuse of power. After all this time if the police cannot make the case that they promised to make, then it is unlikely that they are going to succeed in the future.
It is time that the police ante-up with something that is sufficient to sustain the case they allege that they have against Chandra and Bibit. If they cannot ante-up then someone has to make the call to end this charade. It obviously will not be the Chief of Police, and it will not be the president, perhaps the courts can?
What is truly funny though is that the police have justified the arrest on the grounds that Chandra and Bibit, along with their legal representatives, have been holding press conferences as a means of influencing public opinion against the police and the investigation. It is said that these press conferences are negatively impacting on the investigation.
Ah, probably not. The press conferences might be shedding some light on how poorly the police have performed in this case. It might also be a case of the press conferences are bringing to light that Indonesia is regressing back into the old ways of the New Order of Soeharto.
It is time for the police and the office of the attorney general to call it quits and let this one go. Then the heads must roll. First head off the rank must be Susno Duaji, then followed shortly after by the Chief of Police, Bambang Danuri.
Ultimately, these shenanigans are going to be a "legacy crusher" for SBY. He will be remembered as the president that talked a good game on anti-corruption but could never deliver the goods. In fact, he will be remembered for presiding over the demise of one of the few success stories in the fight against corruption in Indonesia.