Jokowi unlikely to tie graft-busters' hands

Indonesian President Joko Widodo was game for some fun while at visiting Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg at the tech giant's California HQ this week.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo was game for some fun while at visiting Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg at the tech giant's California HQ this week.PHOTO: MARK ZUCKERBERG/ FACEBOOK

Indonesian President faces pressure over proposed amendments

President Joko Widodo will not endorse any legislative changes that dilute the powers of Indonesia's graft-busters, presidential spokesman Johan Budi said yesterday.

He told reporters at the Presidential Palace that amendments proposed by lawmakers to the Bill that empowers the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) must not weaken the body.

"If it turns out that the revisions do not strengthen the KPK, the President will not approve them - this is a point that the public must know," said Mr Johan, himself a former KPK deputy commissioner.

This is the first indication that Mr Joko, popularly known as Jokowi, may be leaning away from the revisions tabled by lawmakers while allaying public concerns that the changes may weaken the KPK.

The four key revisions proposed have to do with how graft probes can be conducted, how investigators should be recruited, KPK's internal protocol and setting up an oversight body for the KPK.

Local activists say these will greatly reduce the agency's authority and effectiveness in tackling corruption. A revision that has been under the spotlight is how KPK investigators can use wiretaps to gather evidence against suspects.

Mr Joko, elected in part because of his strong stand against systemic corruption, is under pressure over the proposed draft.

Indonesian Democratic Party - Struggle lawmaker Hendrawan Supratikno questioned Mr Joko's commitment to revising the KPK law, The Jakarta Post said yesterday.

"Although the President should carefully consider the draft Bill, his prudence has also led us to think about his indecisiveness, like he was dancing the poco-poco," Mr Hendrawan said, referring to a folk dance where performers constantly sway back and forth.

Mr Joko, just back from a US visit, is said to be reviewing the proposal.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said: "We would like to have an oversight committee, appointed by the President, to monitor the KPK. But on the wiretapping process, don't worry, it remains in the hands of the KPK and there will be no intervention from any other party."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 20, 2016, with the headline 'Jokowi unlikely to tie graft-busters' hands'. Print Edition | Subscribe