Indonesia's new police chief vows clean leadership

Indonesia's new police chief vows clean leadership

INDONESIA - National Police Detective Comr. Gen. Sutarman, the sole candidate for the position of National Police chief, vowed that under his leadership the force would build its partnership with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

During a fit-and-proper test on Thursday at the House of Representatives Commission III, which oversees law and human rights, Sutarman told lawmakers that under his leadership, the National Police would step up efforts to curb endemic corruption within the force and other government institutions in the country.

"One of the efforts will be the implementation of a transparent and accountable recruitment process," Sutarman said.

The majority of lawmakers pressed Sutarman on his "excessive loyalty to his superiors", an assessment recently made by the National Police Commission (Kompolnas), Sutarman maintained it would not affect the neutrality of the National Police under his leadership.

Sutarman was aware the issue had been brought up to highlight the National Police's neutrality in safeguarding the 2014 elections.

One Commission III lawmaker Bambang Soesatyo from the Golkar Party further urged Sutarman to pledge his neutrality in the 2014 elections.

"We know that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is the chairman of a political party. So, it's really important for us to have your commitment in this matter," Bambang said, referring to the ruling Democratic Party.

In his presentation to Commission III, Sutarman included his endorsement of female police who wanted to wear the hijab as one of the key programs he would carry out if elected.

Unlike previous fit-and-proper test sessions with the commission's partner institutions, the meeting room was unusually packed

Around 40 legislators asked repetitive questions to Sutarman over the course of hours: a scene rarely seen at other hearings.

During the selection process for new commissioners of the Witness and Victims Protection Agency (LPSK) last month, for example, less than 10 legislators attended.

Such a low attendance could also be seen during the selection of the Supreme Court justices also last month.

Although the majority of Commission III lawmakers expressed their support for Sutarman, a few doubted if the former adjutant to former president Abdurrahman Wahid would stand out as the new police chief.

"Much of your presentation is so normal," lawmaker Sarifuddin Sudding of the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) responded to Sutarman's slide show.

Desmond Junaidi Mahesa of the Great Indonesian Movement (Gerindra) Party concurred with Sudding, emphasizing "nothing was special", with Sutarman.

"No one is more progressive than the outgoing National Police chief Timur Pradopo," said Desmond. "This is why it's difficult to assess you as the [new] National Police chief."

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