Firli Bahuri, a controversial police general has picked as the new chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (CEC) until 2023 by Indonesian parliament yesterday (09/13) - Photo: Special

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Firli Bahuri, a controversial police general has picked as the new chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (CEC) until 2023 by Indonesian parliament yesterday (09/13). He will take the office with Nawawi Pomolango, Lili Pintauli Siregar, Nurul Ghufron, and Alexander Marwata as deputy chairmen.

They were chosen amidst the protests and issue of weakening the anti-graft agency. Since the beginning, the selection process has often been criticized by the public because the committee was considered not transparent in choosing names to be presented to President Joko Widodo.

Before the President offered ten names of candidates, the public was busy rejecting. The reasoned, some names are considered public integrity flaw. Bahuri has been accused of committing gross ethics violations while previously serving on the agency.

“All parties have agreed to choose Firli Bahuri, to serve as the CEC chairman,” said Commission III’ chairman Azis Syamsuddin of the Golongan Karya Party after a five-minute break during which the representatives of the political parties came to an agreement.

Bahuri was a former CEC’ official who had been recalled from the anti-graft body over allegations that he had committed ethical violations in June 2019. He served as a deputy for law enforcement from April 2018 until June this year.

The police general was investigated for an ethics breach last year for allegedly meddling in a graft investigation into former West Nusa Tenggara governor M. Zainul Majdi, following the discovery of a photograph in which he was shown posing on a tennis court with Madji.

The picture was dated May last year, the same month that the anti-graft investigators questioned the governor as a witness in a corruption case involving the divestment of gold and copper mining company PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara.

According to the CEC’ Employee Advisory Board report on Bahuri’ alleged “serious ethics violations”, the general also met with a political party leader at a hotel in Jakarta on Nov. 1, 2018.

During an interview session before the voting, Bahuri claimed that he had not breached CEC ethics, arguing that it was an unplanned meeting and that he and Majdi met in a public space.

The 2002 CEC Law forbids its employees to make contact with suspects or other parties implicated in corruption cases handled by the anti-graft body, dictating a punishment of five years’ imprisonment for those proven guilty.

Bahuri also admitted during the interview that the politician he met in November last year was Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan Party chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri, President Widodo’s boss. He said the meeting was likewise unplanned as he was invited to a dinner by national police deputy chief detective Antam Novambar, who was another candidate in the CEC leadership race.

Even Bahuri was also rejected by a number of CEC employees to lead the anti-corruption agency. There are at least 500 CEC employees who are said to reject Bahuri as new leaders in the coming period.

“I imagine I can voice this not only 200 but 500. Perhaps this is a message to the selection committee whether they will choose the people who will be rejected, that’s up. But those are the roles that we can do as a public,” said anti-corruption activist Saor Siagian days ago.

Then, Saut Simorang, the current Deputy Chairperson of the agency, which announced that Bahuri was proven to have committed ethical violations, immediately resigned today (09/13) following the election of Bahuri as the new chairman.

Indonesia’ Corruption Handling Questioned

With the new leadership, handling corruption in Indonesia has also been questioned by a number of parties from the public, anti-corruption activists, academics, and national figures. This is in line with the House’s plan to revise Law Number 30 the Year 2002 concerning the CEC which has been approved by President Widodo.

The president assigned Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly, his party cadre, and Minister of Administrative Reform and Bureaucratic Reform Syafruddin, former deputy chief of the national police, representing the government to discuss the revision.

The proposed revision contains several controversial articles, including establishing a supervisory council to oversee the CEC, requiring that all CEC employees be civil servants – which would effectively turn it into a government body, requiring that the CEC obtain a wiretapping warrant from the supervisory council, authorizing it to drop and close cases whose investigations are not completed within a year, and revoking the CEC’s independence in recruiting investigators.

In the latest draft of the bill, Article 37 stipulates that a warrant from a high court was required for wiretapping all law enforcement institutions. This includes the State Intelligence Agency, National Narcotics Agency, the police, the Attorney General’s Office and the Judicial Commission, but excludes the CEC.

The process which fairly fast corroborates the allegations about the conspiracy between the government and the Parliament to weaken the CEC. The anti-graft commission and its defenders had previously pinned their hopes on President Widodo to block the legislative attempt to weaken it.

“The president betrays the public trust. More than that, he also betrays his political promise to strengthen the CEC. This sets a bad precedent for Indonesia’s international image and lowers investor confidence due to weak enforcement of corruption law,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International, Thursday (09/12).

Then, Indonesian Islamic University (UII) Yogyakarta’s faculty of law is reportedly planning to aim President Widodo with a motion of no-confidence after he ratified the controversial revision.

Abdul Jamil, UII Law Faculty Dean said they firmly reject the revision that is widely considered to be cripple the anti-graft agency’s task, function, authority, and independence. The motion will be announced once the House officially passes the law.

He also asserts that the faculty of law will take the constitutional alternative by filing for a judicial review to the Supreme Court.

CEC’ investigator Novel Baswedan on Thursday met the dozens of university students who were protesting in front of the CEC’s Building in Jakarta.

He said that combating corruption is a difficult job and that there have been many efforts to keep corruption practices alive.

“Any form of support, attention, or efforts to fight corruption is something that we protect,” he said. He then asked the students to continue monitoring the CEC and support the fight against corruption.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com