23 November 2009
Chandra M Hamzah and Bibit Samad Rianto -- Deponeering...
The President of the Republic of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono or SBY, is not scheduled to respond to the Team of Eight report and their investigation and recommendations regarding the police and prosecutors case against Chandra M Hamzah and Bibit Samad Rianto until tonight. However, unwittingly or not, he has probably provided some insight into what his remarks are likely to be when he addressed the chief editors of 75 media organizations last night.
It is clear that the president feels that some of the issues that have arisen during the cause of these shenanigans have been nothing short of a personal affront to him and his family. Therefore, it is of little or no surprise that he wants this issue to go away, and go away fast. The longer it drags on the more damage it does to him and his legacy.
So, what did the president say exactly. Well, in a nutshell, he wants the issue resolved, and he wants it resolved out of court. His suggestion is that the police and the Office of the Attorney General use their deponeering (sometimes spelt deponering) to discontinue the investigation. Deponeering is a legacy of the Dutch colonial legal system and in its most simple terms means to discontinue any investigation in the public interest. In essence, the president is telling the police and the AGO to end this thing by just pulling up stumps and letting the issue die a fast but peaceful death.
Yet, it is worth noting that in his comments he seems to suggest that ultimately this is a call for the police and the AGO. If this is true, and he has not issued a direct order to the police and the AGO to deponeer this case, then it is a little bit disingenuous to suggest that he is becoming actively involved in the case. In fact, it is pretty clear that he is setting up the public for disappointment by saying that he will not be forced into overstepping his boundaries as president.
And, as far as he is concerned, if he was to order the police or the AGO to stop the investigation then he would be overstepping his authority and interfering in the proper domain of law enforcement. However, he had no qualms about involving himself by pushing through an interim law (perpu) to get three new commissioners appointed to the KPK. It would seem that the president is prepared to pick and choose how he exercises his authority in this case while hiding behind constitutional amendments that supposedly limit the president's authority in dealing with matters relevant and important to the development of democracy within the Republic of Indonesia.
The Team of Eight report also recommends that heads should role. So, it will be interesting to see whether in letting the police and the AGO decide whether he lets the Chief of Police and the Attorney General to continue to make a mockery of their respective institutions.
The idea that deponeering this case as an out-of-court settlement is fair is also a backhanded slap to the face of the KPK and to Chandra and Bibit specifically. This is particularly so if the deponeering does not result in a complete withdrawal of the charges and some degree of compensation for the damage the investigation has done to the reputations of Chandra and Bibit to date.
There would need to not only be a deponeering happening here, but a full and unequivocal apology to both the KPK commissioners for the harm done to them. Anything less would be a slap in the face. This would be particularly so considering that the Team of Eight report states that the police and the AGO do not have enough to sustain a charge of abuse of power or extortion.
So, it remains to be seen. What will the president do? Mr. President what will you do?