Indonesian lawmakers want more police, prosecutors in anti-corruption unit

PHOTO: The Star/ANN

With the selection of candidates to lead the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) put on hold until the House of Representatives decides whether to follow up on the President's recommendations in a plenary session, dissenting opinions on the eight candidates are emerging among lawmakers.

Mulfachri Harahap, deputy chairman of House Commission III overseeing legal affairs, human rights and security, said on Tuesday that it was hard for political party factions in the House not to be biased when assessing prospective KPK leaders who had no prior experience in the field of law.

"This is a matter of a leader's integrity; all final decisions rest on the judgment of leaders. How would [a KPK commissioner] be able to make a decision if they lacked a sense of law?" Mulfachri said at the House complex.

"If you were not versed in a certain field of expertise but you were given a huge responsibility in that field, how would you build up that sense [of law]?"

The National Mandate Party (PAN) politician acknowledged that legislators were having difficulties in assessing the eight candidates proposed by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

He said all party factions were currently digging deep into the track records of the eight candidates.

Antigraft watchdogs previously criticised the final choices made by the government-sanctioned selection committee, having singled out three candidates with questionable track records.

The three problematic candidates are Brig. Gen. Basaria Panjaitan of the National Police, ad hoc judge at the Jakarta Corruption Court Alexander Marwata and Saut Situmorang, an expert at the National Intelligence Agency (BIN).

Meanwhile, the antigraft network heaped praise on the other candidates - public attorney and Atmajaya University lecturer Surya Tjandra, former manager of the National Procurement Agency (LKPP) Agus Rahardjo, KPK official Sujanarko, Hasanudin University law lecturer Laode Muhammad Syarif and acting KPK commissioner Johan Budi.

Part of the reason why the selection committee was unable to name anyone with an adequate background in prosecution, Mulfachri continued, was due to the lack of clarity in the law.

He cited Article 21, paragraph 3 of the 2002 KPK Law, which simply stipulates that the institution's leaders are investigators and prosecutors.

Having received Jokowi's recommendations, the House will have to name the eventual KPK leaders: Each member of Commission III will propose their five preferred names, while the winning votes will be made up of the commission's final tally.

Separately, Yenti Garnasih, a member of the all-female selection committee, who specializes in criminal law pertaining to graft and money-laundering, insisted on returning the debate to the group's final decision.

"It is a decision collectively made by the nine of us," she told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

She said that even though not one of the eight candidates was particularly well-versed in prosecution, she believed it was up to the eventual KPK leaders to make it work.

Before the committee handed in its recommendations to the President, Yenti was an active proponent of choosing candidate leaders from the police and from prosecutors. "A good sentence, if not executed well, would be for nothing," she previously said.

Yenti was coy about having her professional judgement on the matter neglected in the candidate selection process, but said that the future selection of leaders should retain the view of having representatives who were adept in criminal investigations and prosecution.

Surya, one of the candidates short-listed for the KPK leadership, said that anyone with knowledge of prosecution methods should be able to fill the position.

Commenting on the disputed Article 21 of the KPK Law, Surya said that anyone from the KPK leadership would be able to act as an investigator or a prosecutor, as long as he or she had the necessary knowledge.

"KPK leaders are legal practitioners, lawyers and lecturers - they all understand [the process of] litigation," Surya said, as quoted by tribunnews.com.

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