The Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission (the Komisi Pemberanstasan Korupsi, known as the “KPK”) has been active in the past few years. It was established ten years ago, in the spirit of hope and renewal that carried the country through the first years following the ouster of Suharto after three decades in power.
We noted in an earlier post that the KPK has never shied away from political controversy. Two weeks ago, the KPK attempted to confiscate documents from the National Police – documents which were thought to implicate a senior police official close to President Susito Bambang Yudhoyono. The police refused, the affair hit national headlines, and eventually the KPK and officials reached a compromise allowing access to the documents by both sides. Three years ago, when the KPK attempted to indict another senior police official, the deputy chairmen of the KPK instead found themselves jailed on bribery charges. This incident also caused a public media uproar, which in turn forced an independent-spirited investigation. The investigation revealed that the police official originally under investigation by the KPK had conspired with the deputy attorney general to frame the anti-corruption leaders, who were immediately released from jail. That was back in 2009.
This month, the KPK turned its sights inward, arresting two anti-corruption judges last Friday. On 17 August, one female and one male judge were caught accepting 100 million rupiahs from a middleman, who, having been caught with the money earlier, was helping the KPK in a sting operation. Reacting to the arrests, the Speaker of Indonesia’s House of Representatives attempted to justify the bribe-taking, explaining that the judges’ action shows that their salaries are simply too low.
It is doubtful that such a statement was well received by the majority of the 248 million Indonesians who are looking forward to significant reductions in corruption in their diverse, resource-rich country.