Jakarta. Incoming antigraft czar Busyro Muqoddas started his first day on the job on Monday with a pledge to tackle problem cases that have led to charges that the country’s fight against corruption has stalled.
As he was sworn in at the State Palace by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, however, one question on observers’ minds was whether he could achieve much in a term of just one year.
After the ceremony, a confident Busyro promised that the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) would pursue all pending cases thoroughly.
“I envision the KPK, along with the press and other institutions, starting a tradition of transparency,” he said.
“Transparency means honesty. We must respect each institution’s authority, including the KPK’s.”
Also on his agenda, as he agreed in response to a question from a reporter, are the tax scandal involving Gayus Tambunan and the lingering Bank Century bailout mess.
“As long as the evidence is sufficient, we will [investigate]. God willing, I’d like to tell the public that I do not have any political agenda,” he said.
Busyro will have his hands full regaining the people’s trust in a once-respected agency that had seen its last chairman convicted of murder and a number of high-profile cases languish due to an internal leadership crisis.
And unless the rules are changed, he has only a year to get it done before he would have to undergo a new election to his post.
“Busyro has no time for anything else, he must begin work on his first visit to the agency as chairman,” legal expert Todung Mulya Lubis said on Monday.
As a member of the selection committee for the antigraft agency, Todung said he was confident that Busyro had what it took to lead, but he regretted the decision by the House of Representatives to limit Busyro’s tenure to just the remaining term of the sitting commissioners, which will expire next year.
“It’s now up to Busyro. If he can prove that he is a competent leader in just a year, there will be a good chance for him to be re-elected and to lead the agency for a full term of four years,” Todung said.
“He must go directly after the big fish, the high-profile cases that the KPK has avoided so far. I know Busyro has the commitment to combating corruption without fear, so I think he will get the job done.”
Busyro, the former head of the Judicial Commission, could win popularity by meeting public demands for the KPK to take over the tax mafia scandal involving Gayus or the Bank Century bailout saga from police and prosecutors, Todung added.
But taking over either of those complex cases would be hard as legal proceedings have long been under way, with several suspects already convicted and sentenced.
“Besides, handling just the many abandoned cases already facing the KPK might consume more than a year,” Todung said.
Busyro won by a landslide in the head-to-head House selection against human rights activist and renowned lawyer Bambang Widjajanto.
Lawmakers then selected from among the commissioners for the new chairman — and again he won a majority of votes over four deputies of the KPK.
“The prospect that Busyro can lead next year’s selection doesn’t make things better,” said Danang Widoyoko, chairman of non-governmental group Indonesia Corruption Watch.
“He will have to prepare application documents again in May or June next year, attend interviews with lawmakers, undergo a health examination and so on. That could significantly reduce his available work hours.”
Also on Monday, ICW filed a motion with the Constitutional Court challenging the House limitation on his term and demanding that Busyro be allowed to serve for four years, through 2014.
“One year is just too short for the massive work facing a KPK leader,” Danang said.
“Let’s say that Busyro would take KPK into the Gayus saga. As police and prosecutors are prosecuting Gayus for bribery and mishandling corporate taxpayers, the KPK could launch a probe into another aspect of the case, namely the source of Gayus’s suspicious bank accounts. This will surely take longer than a year,” Danang added.