A government plan to ease a remission regulation for corruption convicts has been described as a way of protecting members of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI-P) from legal charges, the party having suffered more corruption convictions than any other over the past decade.
Alvon Kurnia Palma from the Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) cited a study on the corruption perception index of political parties by watchdog group Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Watch that revealed PDI-P politicians had been involved in the most graft cases between 2004 and 2014.
The organisation conducted its study based on data provided by several anticorruption organisations, including the KPK, Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) and Transparency International Indonesia.
According to the study, politicians from the party had been involved in 157 cases in a decade, with Golkar Party members in second place with 113 cases and the Democratic Party third with 47 cases.
"This is an interesting finding, and may have something to do with that dubious plan," Alvon, who is also an attorney to former KPK deputy leader Bambang Widjajanto, said on Wednesday.
"We must suspect that the political agenda is stronger than the legal one behind the plan," he added.
Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly has mooted a plan to revise a 2012 government regulation that imposed stricter remission requirements for crimes including drugs, graft and terrorism.
Yasonna argued that a graft convict had a right to remission.
He also argued against the KPK's authority to recommend sentence cuts, which makes it hard for convicts to propose reductions.
Abraham Todo Napitupulu from the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) advised Yasonna to drop the plan and instead conduct a comprehensive study on the impact of the regulation, which is rarely implemented by the ministry.
The Law and Human Rights Ministry has continued to grant sentence cuts and parole to convicts since the regulation came into force, including the release last year of businesswoman Hartati Murdaya, who is also a former patron of the Democratic Party.
Yasonna hit back at his critics, saying that the plan was aimed at improving the legal system. "It has nothing to do with [the PDI-P]; I merely want to fix the system," he said.
Yasonna said further that he had reported to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo his idea to revise the 2012 regulation, telling the President that the idea had been widely misunderstood.
Yasonna said he supported stricter requirements for those involved in extraordinary crimes, such as corruption, to receive sentence cuts.
"In this context, we want to impose stricter requirements. For example, those involved in general crimes may get remission if they behave well for six months in prison, while those involved in corruption cases may get remission only if they show good behaviour for a year or a year and a half," he said.
As another example, Yasonna suggested that those involved in general crimes could receive sentence cuts of one month, while graft convicts could get a maximum remission of 15 days.