Indonesian Lawmakers Poised to Strip KPK’s Authority

By webadmin on 01:38 am Sep 16, 2009
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Febriamy Hutapea

Seven of the 10 parties in the House of Representatives have agreed to diminish the authority of the Corruption Eradication Commission in the pending Anti-Corruption Bill, the Prosperous Justice Party announced on Tuesday.

Nasir Jamil, a legislator with the PKS — a key partner in President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party-led coalition — said only the PKS, the National Awakening Party (PKB) and the Reform Star Party (PBR) opposed the move, which would see the powers of the commission, also known the KPK, reduced to an investigative role.

The KPK, which has drawn praise for its efforts to combat endemic graft in Indonesia, currently has the power to investigate and prosecute cases in the Anti-Corruption Court, which has a 100 percent conviction rate. The body has taken down a number of corrupt officials from the previously untouchable Attorney General’s Office and, more notably, the graft-ridden House.

Among the KPK’s high-profile successes is former Bank Indonesia Deputy Governor Aulia Pohan, Yudhoyono’s son-in-law, who received a four and a half year sentence.

The House is debating the Anti-Corruption Court bill. It it passes it its current form, the KPK’s authority to prosecute would be stripped. If the bill is not passed by Dec. 19, the Anti-Corruption Court must be disbanded. The current court has its legal basis in a 2002 law, but the Constitutional Court ruled that the mechanism under which the court was established was unconstitutional.

Perceived attempts to weaken the authority of the KPK have met with widespread criticism.

Nasir, speaking at a news conference, told journalists the seven political parties, including the Democratic Party that had campaigned on an antigraft platform, had the support of the Ministry of Defence. The bill is expected to be enacted before the terms of the current batch of legislators expire next week.

Nasir, whose party supports the death penalty for those found guilty of major corruption, said he opposed any attempts to weaken the KPK.

Another PKS legislator, Al Muzammil Yusuf, said the House should not weaken the KPK’s authority just because lawmakers have been investigated and prosecuted by the body.

Al Muzammil said the KPK was needed by the country to fight corruption and the KPK should be given appropriate authority. “If our war against corruption fails, I’m worried that our reform process will also fail.”

More than half of the representatives debating the bill have been voted out of office and are rushing through as much legislation as possible before their terms run out.

Critics have commented on the handsome bonuses lawmakers receive for enacting legislation.