Chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission Abraham Samad vowed on Saturday to continue fighting corruption, even if he and his four deputies have to face the worst possible consequences.
Leaders of the antigraft organization, known as the KPK, “have surrendered our lives for this cause. We have prepared our bodies for wakaf [sacrifical legacy], ” Samad said, in a short text message to journalists, indicating that they were ready to risk their lives as they battle the police to investigate the controversial driving simulator graft case.
The KPK has named Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo a key suspect in the case that has reportedly caused at least Rp 100 billion ($10.6 million) in losses to the state treasury. But since Djoko was named a suspect, police have exhibited a seemingly defensive posture, arguing that they have the right to lead a probe into the case instead of the KPK.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono held a three-minute impromptu meeting with Samad and police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo on Thursday evening. Yudhoyono said that the two institutions should work together for the sake of upholding the law.
But Samad was not satisfied with that meeting, because the president “only talked in [a] normative tone,” he said, adding, “Normative means there is nothing special.”
The legal row between police and the KPK has divided the political elite and legal experts.
Former justice and human rights minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra has said the police will win if the KPK takes the case to the Constitutional Court. Another noted expert of law, Indriyanto Seno Adji, said the police cannot legally stop the investigation, but they retain the right to handle the case.
But on the other side, noted lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis led a delegation of legal experts to meet with Samad to express their support for the KPK in the matter. Over the past week, newspapers and websites have featured appeals from various circles for police to stop investigating the case and to allow the KPK to continue its job. Many argued that police would not be objective if they handled a case involving their own generals.
Amidst the heated debate, the KPK leader reiterated over the weekend that the KPK would soon name more police generals as suspects in the case.
“Just wait for that day. It will surely come, in due time,” he said.
“Everybody is equal before the law. We uphold the principle of equality before the law. Here, whether you have stars or not, it does not matter. Everybody is equal.”
The same statement about nobody being above the law was echoed by Bambang Widjojanto, one of the KPK’s four deputy chairmen.
Apart from Samad and Bambang, the KPK leadership also includes three other deputies: Zulkarnain, Busyro Muqoddas and Adnan Pandu Praja.
On Saturday, former police general Sisno Adiwinoto said a way to settle the dispute is to take it to the district court and to use the criminal code as the basis of judgement. This would weaken the KPK’s authority to deal with the issue. Sisno made the remark amid appeals for a total review of the KPK Law by the Constitutional Court.
But Sadli Isra, a legal expert from Andalas University in Padang, West Sumatra, said on Saturday that the KPK Law should not be reviewed now because people might try to take advantage of it while the KPK is busy with the police issue.
In a related development, deputy chairman Bambang has said that the KPK would start arresting ministers as suspects in graft cases in the next few months, but he declined to mention any names.
Previously, the KPK has interrogated Youth and Sport Minister and former presidential spokesman Andy Mallarangeng, Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar, Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare and former House of Representatives speaker Agung Laksono and Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali, in connection to different graft cases.
Andy was interrogated as part of the investigation into the Hambalang sport center project in Bogor. Muhaimin was allegedly tied to irregularities in an infrastructure project in Papua, while Agung was connected to a case of bribery with the Riau national sporting event, also known as PON. Suryadharma was interrogated over a corruption case involving a supply of Koran holy books.
With the KPK now going after high profile figures, political observers say that the government only has two options left — support the antigraft body, or lose its credibility in front of a society that is already fed up with the large number of corruption cases.