"So far, corruption cases are collectively dealt with by all colleagues at the KPK. If the number of KPK commissioners is only two, the KPK will not be able to take a decision, arrest a suspect, and conduct an investigation," Pukat UGM researcher ZaiJakarta (Antara News) - The crocodile has returned and tried to attack the gecko once again, but this time, the gecko is not alone, for the people have voluntarily come to defend it.
That is how people perceived it when they heard the breaking news about the arrest of Bambang Widjojanto, deputy chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) by the National Police's Crime Investigation Department (Bareskrim) on January 23, 2015.
Bambang Widjojanto was detained in Depok Street, Friday at 7.30 am while taking his child to school, for allegedly forcing a witness to provide a false testimony under oath during his tenure as a lawyer when he was handling a dispute regarding the regional head elections in West Kotawaringin, Central Kalimantan, in 2010.
The report was filed by Sugianto Sabran, a legislator of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) from Central Kalimantan, to Bareskrim on January 15, 2015.
Initially, the National Police denied the report on the arrest of the anti-graft bodys commissioner, but later confirmed it.
Bareskrim did not arrest Widjojanto, but just took him in for questioning, Inspector General Ronny Sompie, spokesman of the National Police said.
The KPK lodged a strong protest following the arrest. "KPK strongly protests the arrest of one of its chairmen, Bambang Widjojanto," KPK deputy chairman Adnan Pandu Praja said during a press conference in the afternoon.
Following the arrest, dozens of people, including prominent anti-corruption activists grouped in the Anti-Corruption Civil Society Coalition, spontaneously reached the KPK office, to support and guard the agency.
Among the over 100 activists were former deputy minister Denny Indrayana, artist Butet Kertaradjasa, Advocacy Director of LBH (Legal Aid Institute) Jakarta Bahrain, Kontras activist Haris Azhar and Emerson Yuntho of ICW (Indonesian Corruption Watch).
Others who were there included Zainal Arifin Mochtar of the University of Gadjah Mada, "Salam Dua Jari" volunteer Fadjroel Rachman, Haridz Abbas of the Human Rights Commission, philosophy lecturer Franz Magnis Suseno and prominent lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis, Imam Prasojo, along with political observer Eep Saefullah Fatah and spouse Sandrina Malakiano, and Yenny Wahid, daughter of former president Abdurrahman Wahid.
The Coalition issued a statement saying that the arrest was an act of resistance in response to KPKs naming of Commissioner General Budi Gunawan in a graft case, just a few days after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo nominated Gunawan to replace Gen. Sutarman as new police chief.
Budi Gunawan served as a security aide to PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri during her presidency from 2001 to 2004.
Sompie, however, denied any link between the police move to arrest Bambang Widjojanto and KPK naming Budi Gunawan a corruption suspect on January 13, 2015.
The Coalition considers the polices resistance against KPK as an attempt to obstruct law enforcement and corruption eradication.
The arrest was also seen as an arbitrary action and a backlash on the anti-corruption movement. "The arbitrary arrest is an effort to delegitimize the KPKs authority in investigating the case of suspect Commissioner General Budi Gunawan," Butet Kertaradjasa remarked.
The coalition issued three demands in the statement. Firstly, the National Police must release Bambang Widjojanto immediately.
"Secondly, President Joko Widodo must cancel the appointment of Commissioner General Budi Gunawan as national police chief and support the investigation by the KPK," noted Suciwati, wife of the slain human rights activist Munir.
"Thirdly, invite every Indonesian to defend the KPK. Do not let the KPK be surrounded and controlled by the corruptors accomplices. Do not let Indonesia be controlled by corruptors mafia," Kertaradjasa stated.
The anti-corruption activists congregated at the KPK building carrying banners that read, "Save KPK", "Save Indonesia", and "#I am KPK," among several others.
The arrest also triggered social media uproar as tweets about "gecko vs crocodile" topped the world Twitter trending topic list, and #SaveKPK hashtag on Facebook.
The gecko vs crocodile term became popular when former Bareskrim chief Susno Duadji referred to the KPK as a powerless gecko trying to fight a crocodile referring to the police force, in a conflict between the two institutions in 2009.
At that time, the two institutions seemed to have been competing with each other in handling corruption cases.
However, when Bareskrim was led by Commissioner General Suhardi Alius, the relations between the KPK and the National Police completely changed. It turned out to be sound, and there was no competition between them.
The Police, KPK and the Financial Transaction Report and Analysis Center (PPATK) established close cooperation and offered support to each other in tackling corruption cases.
Corruption in this country could not be handled separately, but it must be tackled jointly by relevant institutions, Suhardi Alius, who has been transferred to the National Resilience Institute (Lemhannas) as first secretary, once said last year.
As Alius was replaced by Inspector General Budi Waseso as Bareskrim chief on January 19, 2015, it seemed that the "gecko vs crocodile phase II" had begun with the sudden arrest of the anti-graft bodys leader.
The Bareskrim claimed to possess three pieces of strong evidence to arrest Bambang Widjojanto. The evidences included documents, witness testimonies, and expert opinions.
Widjojanto was questioned for around 15 hours and was finally released in the wee hour of Saturday (Jan 24), after pressure from activists and voluntary lawyers.
"I thank the people for supporting the KPK so far. I also thank the police for having completed my questioning tonight," he said following his release.
A number of NGOs and experts have urged President Jokowi to step in to rescue the KPK in view of the police action against its deputy chairman.
Deputy Chairman of the Commission I of the House of Representatives Tantowi Yahya believed that the Jokowi administration should help solve the problem.
Conflicts between the police and the KPK arose during the early days of the Jokowi administration; so, the president should help solve their problem, Tantowi Yahya, who is also a member of the Golkar Party, said.
Despite the explanation by the police that Widjojanto was arrested for questioning, the public will suspect it was a retaliatory step against KPKs action, according to Yahya.
"It is because the arrest happened not long after KPK named Com. Gen. Budi Gunawan in a graft case," Tantowi Yahya noted.
President Joko Widodo should take a firm stand against the efforts to weaken KPK, political observer Herdiansyah Hamzah of the Samarinda-based Mulawarman University, East Kalimantan, said.
"The arrest of KPK Deputy Chief Bambang Widjojanto by the police has raised questions whether the action was a legal process or a politically motivated one," he noted.
Meanwhile, police affairs observer Bambang Widodo Umar has urged the police as a law enforcement institution to be independent.
"I hope the National Police will have an independent stance, and will not be easily politicized by any political group while dealing with criminal cases," he said in a short text message.
Umar has been of the view that the arrest was politically motivated as it was meant to weaken the anti-corruption body, which is handling legal processes in Gunawan case. At the same time, he believes any outside "intervention" in the National Police can weaken the police.
"Yes, it tends to weaken both KPK and the Polri (national police)," he said.
The target does not stop at Bambang Widjojanto, as KPK Chief Abraham Samad was also reported by Police chief candidate Commissioner General Budi Gunawans lawyers team to Bareskrim for alleged power abuse.
"We withdraw our report sent to the Attorney Generals Office (AGO) a few days ago, and we submitted the report to Bareskrim instead," Eggi Sudjana, a member of Gunawans team of lawyers, stated at the Bareskrim office, on January 23, 2015.
The AGOs response was too slow, hence, the team submitted the report to Bareskrim, he added. The lawyers reported the names of the two KPK leaders to the AGO on Wednesday, January 21, for alleged abuse of power and authority.
"Previously, we submitted the report to the AGO, which is supposed to be neutral. But, this morning, we saw a news report about the arrest of BW (Bambang Widjojanto) by Bareskrim, and so, we diverted the report to Bareskrim," Sudjana remarked.
Samad and Widjojanto were reported in their personal capacity, and it has nothing to do with the KPK or the National Police as institutions, Lawyer Razman Arif Nasution, another member of the team, explained.
"It has nothing to do with those institutions, but it is person to person," he added.
The Center for Anti-Corruption Studies of the state Gajah Mada University (Pukat UGM) in Yogyakarta condemned the arrest. "We strongly condemn the arrest," Pukat UGM researcher Zainur Rohman remarked.
After Bambang Widjojantos arrest, only three commissioners are now running the KPK, he stated.
As KPK Chief Abraham Samad is now also being delegitimized, the anti-graft institution has practically stopped functioning and is unable to take a decision to deal with important corruption cases.
"So far, corruption cases are collectively dealt with by all colleagues at the KPK. If the number of KPK commissioners is only two, the KPK will not be able to take a decision, arrest a suspect, and conduct an investigation," he pointed out.
In the meantime, following the arrest and the public outcry, President Jokowi gave a press statement saying, "I just had a meeting with the vice president, the coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, the attorney general, several ministers, KPK leaders, and the police deputy chief."
"I have told the KPK chief and the National Police deputy chief that as the head of this nation I ask the National Police and the KPK to ensure an objective legal process based on the law," the president said in Bogor Palace. ***2***
(T.F001/A/KR-BSR/A014) 24-01-2015 23:24:57
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
Copyright © ANTARA 2015