Indonesia's anti-graft agency gets new leaders after police feud

JAKARTA (Bloomberg) - Indonesian lawmakers chose new leadership for the country's anti-corruption agency, garnering mixed reviews on their ability to rebuild the organisation after a feud with police led to some of the old leaders being arrested this year.

Agus Rahardjo, a former manager of the national procurement agency, was named the head of the organisation, known as the KPK, along with four new commissioners. The previous head, Abraham Samad, was suspended while police investigated him for alleged document forgery in a case seen as part of efforts to neutralise the body.

Rahardjo "is a conventional civil servant and he will be making a quantum leap to a far more weighty role, and it remains to be seen how he handles this transition," said Kevin O'Rourke, author of "Reformasi: The Struggle for Power in Post-Soeharto Indonesia". "Obstacles posed by the police and parliament will continue to pose problems."

The KPK has won public trust for prosecuting lawmakers, judges and executives since its formation in 2003, in a country ranked 107th of 175 states and territories in Transparency International's 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index. President Joko Widodo pledged to tackle corruption after being elected last year, though the agency's dispute with police undermined his reform credentials and hurt his popularity.

"We mustn't lose hope," said Priharsa Nugraha, a KPK spokesman, when asked about negative reaction to the new leadership. "Let's see how they work first."