Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The week in review: Fighting graft and separatism

In the nation-wide struggle to root out graft, Indonesians have to undoubtedly consider the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) as the most prominent institution to take the lead compared to the police and the Attorney General’s Office; although there are critics saying the commission is dragging its feet in dealing with high-profile cases.

The stunning remark by House of Representatives Speaker Marzuki Alie, who suggested that the KPK be dismantled if its leaders were unreliable, failed to erode the public’s faith in the antigraft body.

As the KPK is in dire need of new leaders, people are anxiously waiting for the results of the ongoing selection of new KPK leaders. The committee has shortlisted 10 figures — Abdullah Hehamahua, Abraham Samad, Adnan Pandupradja, Aryanto Sutadi, Bambang Widjojanto, Egi Sutjiati, Handoyo Sudrajat, Sayid Fadhil, Yunus Husein and Zulkarnain — for the last selection stage.

Interviews of the 10 candidates will take place on Aug. 15 to further cut the number to eight, after which their names will be submitted to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on
Aug. 18, according to Law and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar.

Fugitive graft suspect Muhammad Nazaruddin, the ousted treasurer of Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, is certainly not part of the selection committee, but he could show a number of candidates the door.

To the public’s surprise, three key incumbent KPK figures – deputy chairman Chandra M. Hamzah, deputy for enforcement Ade Rahardja and spokesman Johan Budi – failed to qualify. Their exit came just after Nazaruddin talked to the media from his hiding place where he had met the three KPK officials and investigator Adj. Sr. Comr. Roni Samtana, to negotiate several cases implicating members of his party. Nazaruddin said Chandra and Ade would receive the party’s backing in return.

Another name that also attracted the public’s attention was Sutan Bagindo Fachmi, head of the West Sumatra Prosecutor’s Office. Fachmi failed to clear the hurdles after Nazaruddin claimed that the prosecutor had contributed Rp 1 billion (US$118,345) to the Democratic Party in exchange for the party’s favor. Fachmi has denied the allegation.

Nazaruddin is wanted for his role in corruption cases relating to the construction of SEA Games’ facilities in Palembang, South Sumatra. In an apparent act of retaliation, Nazaruddin named Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum the mastermind of his act of corruption. Nazaruddin said Anas won the party’s chief post in 2009 after buying votes, which he funded with ill-gotten money from projects commissioned by state-owned enterprises.

According to National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Anton Bachrul Alam, with the hunt for Nazaruddin intensifying, the police plan to confiscate BlackBerry smart phones used by a number of journalists to communicate with Nazaruddin.

The brouhaha has prompted the KPK to establish an ethics board, which is aimed to investigate alleged violations committed by commission members and, more importantly, restore its credibility.

We hope only people with integrity and honesty will stay in the KPK to continue the campaign against graft that has long tarnished the country’s image.

Indonesia also came under the spotlight this week as Papuan people renewed their demand for a referendum. On Tuesday, the heads of state institutions met with President Yudhoyono, calling on the government to pay more attention to the implementation of special autonomy in the provinces in order to prove the secessionist view is wrong.

Papua has recently seen a spate of violence. Just after 19 people were killed in a clash between supporters of rival political candidates in Puncak Jaya regency over the weekend, gunmen shot dead three civilians and a military soldier in Nafri, near the provincial capital of Jayapura on Monday. Two days later, gunmen shot at a military helicopter in Puncak Jaya, which is believed to be the stronghold of the separatist rebel group, OPM (Free Papua Organization).

Thousands of Papuans rallied in Jayapura, Biak and Jakarta in a show of support for the conference of International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP) in Oxford. The ILWP argues that the 1969 Act of Free Choice in Papua, albeit supervised by the United Nations, was flawed because it relied on the consensus of elders who did not represent the entire population in Papua.

It was unfortunate that during the meeting between the state institutions’ leaders and the President, they did not discuss the conference result. Regional Representatives Council head Irman Gusman said that “the Unitary State of Indonesia is already final.” He added that the state institution leaders demanded that the government “better manage Papua and Aceh ahead of the regional elections, which are prone to conflict”.

Speaking after the meeting, however, Yudhoyono did not touch on the issue of Papua or Aceh. Instead, he said he would consider input from state institution leaders to be inserted in his state address to be delivered on Aug. 16, ahead of the Independence Day anniversary.

As the first week of Ramadhan has passed, people have begun to complain about the rising prices of food and basic goods. The increasing demand for food supplies has prompted the government to set aside Rp 2.2 trillion to ensure demands are met.

Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa said Rp 1 trillion from the funds would be used to finance “rice for the poor”. BPS chairman Rusman Heriawan called on the government to focus on the last week of August, when people brace themselves for the Idul Fitri holiday, to stabilize prices through market operations.

In spite of these events, hopefully peace will prevail in the remaining weeks of Ramadhan.

— Primastuti Handayani

Source; http://www.thejakartapost.com