President Joko Widodo has appointed a committee comprised solely of women to recommend candidates for the anti-graft commission, in a move that has surprised many people.
The nine committee members are all experts from various backgrounds. They include: Ms Destry Damayanti, chief economist of Bank Mandiri, Indonesia's largest lender;Criminal law expert Harkristuti Harkrisnowo, former director- general of general law administration at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights; and Betti Alisjahbana, former CEO of IBM Indonesia.
"Indonesia will become a great nation if it is free of corruption," President Joko said, noting that the selection committee must include people with expertise from all fields - criminal law, organisation, sociology, and state administration.
It should also include a "corporate type" person, he said.
The anti-graft agency, better known as KPK, has been criticised by police after it challenged the nomination of three-star general Budi Gunawan as police chief.
But Indonesians trust the KPK more than they trust the police, as it has not shied away from arresting influential politicians, tycoons and police generals over the years. It has chalked up a jaw-dropping 100 per cent conviction rate, with some active police generals and elite politicians doing jail time.
Not surprisingly, that has made the KPK many enemies. But analysts say the committee members appointed yesterday are all people with strong qualifications.
Political analyst Indrajaya Piliang said it shows that President Joko is serious about strengthening the KPK to fend off challenges from the police and the Attorney-General's office, which have tried wresting away its right to take over graft cases.
"This is an extraordinary surprise, but they are the right choices. The appointments answer worries that the government had earlier planned to appoint people with weak backgrounds," he said.
"It's a good move, a right strategy. Those nine Srikandis are relatively free of vested interest," said Mr Wijayanto Samirin, an economist at Paramadina University who is also an adviser to Vice-President Jusuf Kalla. "Srikandi" is the name of a powerful hero from the great Hindu epic Mahabharata.
Mr Muradi, a political analyst at Padjadjaran University, said the all-female committee would pave the way for Indonesia to have a female corruption agency commissioner for the first time.
He believes this will strengthen the fight against corruption.
Presidential spokesman Teten Masduki, said: "The committee consists of extraordinary women who were appointed by an ordinary President who is making an extraordinary breakthrough."
The selection work would also be better, Mr Muradi argued.
"Some say that corruption starts in the home, when a wife asks for something beyond what her husband can afford.
"A husband with a strong character wouldn't give in to this demand. Women would know better which candidate is the type of husband who would easily give in."
This article was first published on May 22, 2015.
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