Anti-graft fight work in progress

The 2017 acid attack on Indonesia's top graft buster Novel Baswedan remains unsolved.
The 2017 acid attack on Indonesia's top graft buster Novel Baswedan remains unsolved.PHOTO: THE JAKARTA POST

JAKARTA • Indonesia's top anti-graft investigator Novel Baswedan was leading a probe into a major electronic identity card graft case when his face was splashed with acid in April 2017.

Two men on a motorcycle carried out the attack as he was leaving a mosque near his home in Jakarta. The hit has left Mr Novel, the cousin of Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan, partially blind despite intensive treatment at Singapore's Mount Elizabeth Hospital.

The failure of the police to find the perpetrators of the shocking attack after nearly two years is a rare, but significant, blemish on President Joko Widodo's record against corruption.

Last week, bomb devices were found at the homes of two senior officials from the Corruption Eradication Commission, the agency that Mr Novel works for.

One official had a molotov cocktail thrown at his house, while a device resembling a pipe bomb was found at the other official's gate.

Eradicating corruption remains an uphill battle in Indonesia, where Parliament was considered to be the most corrupt institution in a 2017 survey by Transparency International Indonesia.

The case Mr Novel was working on had caused 2.3 trillion rupiah (S$219 million) in state losses, and implicated many MPs, including former parliamentary Speaker Setya Novanto, and other high-ranking officials, including a police general.


Setya was found guilty and sentenced to 15 years' jail last April.

The battle against rampant corruption in Indonesia has slowed down, according to the annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released by Berlin-based Transparency International.

Indonesia was at the 88th position out of 168 countries surveyed in the 2015 CPI. Countries perceived as less corrupt are in the top positions. Indonesia slipped to 96th out of 180 countries surveyed in the 2017 CPI, down by six places from the 2016 CPI.

Linda Yulisman

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2019, with the headline 'Anti-graft fight work in progress'. Print Edition | Subscribe