On January 12, 2015, the head of state announced the nomination of Commissioner General Budi Gunawan as the sole police chief candidate.
On the next day, however, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named Budi Gunawan a suspect in an alleged corruption case.
Budi Gunawan had allegedly committed corruption when he was the head of the Bureau of Career Development at the Police Headquarters during the 2003-2006 period, KPK Chairman Abraham Samad stated.
Gunawan, who had served as a security aide to PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri during her 2001-2004 presidential term, was one of the several police generals reported to have a suspiciously large bank account in 2010, but after internal investigations, the police said there was nothing illegal about the account.
On January 16, President Jokowi dismissed Police Chief General Sutarman whose tenure was due to end in October 2015. Jokowi decided to assign Commissioner General Badrodin Haiti to carry out the duties as acting National Police chief.
Not only Sutarman, Chief of the National Polices Crime Investigation Department Commissioner General Suhardi Alius was also replaced and transferred to the National Resilience Institute (Lemhannas) as first secretary.
Alius was replaced by Inspector General Budi Waseso, who is Budi Gunawans confidant. Waseso was previously head of education and training for high-ranking officers under the supervision of Gunawans division.
Earlier, on Jan. 15, the House of Representatives (DPR) approved the nomination of Gunawan who passed the Commission IIIs fit and proper test for filling the police chiefs post.
Amid public controversy, the president had to postpone the installation of Budi Gunawan until his legal case was resolved.
Gunawans nomination has become a polemic and has triggered an open conflict between some leaders of the police and KPK. The conflict between the two law enforcement institutions is often referred to as "gecko versus crocodile."
On January 23, 2015, new Baresktrim Chief Budi Waseso named Bambang Widjojanto, a KPK deputy speaker, as a suspect on a charge of asking a witness to give a false testimony to ensure a win for his client in a dispute over the result of a district head election in Kotawaringing Barat, Central Kalimantan, in 2010, while he was still a lawyer.
Widjojanto was detained for questioning for almost a day and was only released after midnight following huge public pressure.
Following the KPK commissioners arrest, dozens of people, including prominent anti-corruption activists grouped in the Anti-Corruption Civil Society Coalition, soon reached the KPK office, to support and guard the anti-graft agency.
The Coalition issued a statement saying that the arrest was an act of resistance in response to the KPK naming Commissioner General Budi Gunawan as a suspect in a graft case.
The National Polices spokesman Ins. Gen. Ronny Sompie, however, denied any link between the polices move to arrest Bambang Widjojanto and the KPK naming Budi Gunawan as a corruption suspect.
The arrest was also viewed 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, a member of the Coalition, remarked.
The coalition issued three demands in the statement. Firstly, the National Police must release Bambang Widjojanto immediately.
"Secondly, President Jokowi must cancel the appointment of Commissioner General Budi Gunawan as the national police chief and support the investigation conducted by the KPK," noted Suciwati, the wife of the slain human rights activist Munir, on Jan. 23.
Currently, the existing four leaders of the KPK have been reported to the Bareskrim for alleged violations of laws in separate cases.
New Bareskrim chief Budi Waseso gave assurance that Bareskrim would soon name KPK Chief Abraham Samad as a suspect in an alleged case relating to the abuse of power. Bareskrim will also soon investigate two other KPK deputy speakers Adnan Pandu Praja and Zulkarnain.
Such a situation is in stark contrast to the sound ties shared between the KPK and police when Suhardi Alius was Bareskrims chief. Alius believed that it is crucial for the Police, KPK, and the Financial Transaction Report and Analysis Center (PPATK) to establish close cooperation and support each other in tackling corruption cases in the country.
Amid the ongoing KPK versus police conflict and the dilemma of whether or not to install Gunawan, President Jokowi has set up a nine-member Independent Consultative Team to help find solutions to the problems.
The team comprising, among others, former chairman of Muhammadiyah Syafii Maarif and former chairman of Constitutional Court (MK) Jimly Asshidiqie, has advised the head of state to drop the nomination of Gunawan and select a new candidate.
"The president must assure that any law enforcement official who has been named a suspect must resign or not hold any official post to preserve the honor of the police and the KPK institutions," the teams Chief Syafii Maarif recently emphasized.
"The president must reaffirm his commitment towards corruption eradication and the rule of the law to meet public expectations," he noted.
Syafii Maarif said the president would regain the peoples support and trust if he prioritizes public interests in his policies.
Besides receiving recommendations from the team, President Jokowi had also discussed the problems with the DPR, the Regional Legislative Council (DPD), the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI), and several prominent figures such as former president B.J. Habibie and retired general Prabowo Subianto, a rival in the last presidential election.
B.J. Habibie stated that the president should take the right decision to safeguard the peoples interests.
"As he was elected by the people and not by political parties. So, do not let them down," Habibie noted.
Following the meeting with Jokowi at the Bogor Palace, on Jan. 29, Prabowo Subianto, the chairman of the Great Indonesian Movement (Gerindra) Party and opposition Red-and-White Coalition (KMP), informed the press that he supported the Jokowi administration and believed that the presidents decisions regarding the police chiefs appointment and the police versus KPK conflict will be handled in accordance with the publics aspirations.
"I am sure he will prioritize the interests of the Indonesian people and will choose the best to protect the national interests," he remarked.
However, Gunawans lawyer Razman Nasution regretted the meeting between the president and Prabowo Subianto.
"If the meeting between Jokowi-Prabowo is going to be used as an excuse to not install our client, then it is dangerous. It would disadvantage our client," Razman Nasution stated, urging the president to immediately install Gunawan in accordance with the law.
In the meantime, Executive Director of Maarif Institute Fajar Riza urged Jokowi to drop the plan to install Budi Gunawan as recommended by the Independent Consultative Team.
"Jokowi should name a new candidate. The key to solving the present political furor is a firm decision of the president. This is a crucial test to the commitment he pledged during his political campaigns," Fajar Riza recently noted.
He said the recommendation by the independent team represents the peoples aspirations and anti-corruption activists.
The president should have the courage to take a stance against the leaders of his political party (PDIP) and stand firmly on his commitment, he stated.
Another call to cancel Gunawans nomination was voiced by interfaith leaders.
"We urge the president to not just postpone his plan to inaugurate Budi Gunawan as the national police chief but to cancel it altogether," Catholic leader Romo Y. R. Edy Purwanto recently noted.
President Jokowi, however, said, he would take a decision next week, after concluding his four-day ASEAN visit that commenced on February 5.
"I will solve all (matters) next week. There are matters that I must resolve first," the head of state remarked on Feb. 4.
Jokowi said he was awaiting a ruling by a pretrial court as the police had filed a lawsuit against the KPK for naming Gunawan as a suspect.
The National Police Commission (Kompolnas) announced that it will work quickly if President Jokowi canceled the inauguration of Budi Gunawan and asked the Kompolnas to nominate new names.
"It should not take time to prepare the new names," Kompolnas member Adrianus Meliala stated recently.
Several officials including Minister/State Secretary Pratikno and former KPK commissioner Erry Riyana Hardjapamekas suggested Budi Gunawan to withdraw his candidacy for the post of national police chief as he is now named a graft suspect.
A similar view was also recently voiced by researcher of the Indonesian Survey Circle (LSI) Denny J.A. Ardian Sopa.
"Budi Gunawans willingness to abandon his candidacy is one of the solutions," he said.
He stated that the move to delay the appointment of a definitive police chief will act as a "time bomb" for the police.
In response to the calls for Gunawan to drop his candidacy, Acting Police Chief Commissioner General Badrodin Haiti stated that Gunawan will take a decision regarding his candidacy only after his pre-trial lawsuit against the KPK concludes.
"Yesterday, State Secretary Minister Pratikno urged Budi Gunawan to withdraw his candidacy. But, after our discussion with Budi, he said he will wait for the result of the pre-trial process and then make a decision," Haiti remarked on Feb. 4.
If the pre-trial is held in a marathon session, it will take one week to conclude, he added. (*)