Thursday, December 8, 2011

KPK Selection Process: When a Serial Killer Chose His Own Team of Detectives

OVERLOOKED. Yunus Husein, the former chief of the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) was not chosen by lawmakers to lead Indonesia's top anticorruption body allegedly due to his fearsome reputation as "the man who knew the balance of your bank account".  
(photo by Arief Manurung)

The House of Representatives complex at Senayan, Jakarta became a stage of another failure of democracy after House lawmakers from Commission III overseeing legal affairs named its four new leaders for the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
When I attended the voting process on Friday last week, it was a strange view that there were few –or if even any– journalists, NGO representatives, commission’s staffs, and even security guards who were seen clapping in the midst of noisy applause and loud celebration among the lawmakers after the Commission’s chairman read aloud the result.
The disappointment of the neutrals who witnessed the voting process and follow the issue thoroughly was clear: the current KPK composition is a massive letdown, and the lawmakers’ decision did not represent them and their fellow Indonesian people.
The appointee of lawyer Abraham Samad, National Police Commission member Adnan Pandupraja, and senior prosecutor Zulkarnaen to fill the KPK top posts had raised eyebrows on whether the House lawmakers have already done their main task of representing the public properly.
The government selection committee tasked to assess the eight candidates merely placed Abraham, Zulkarnaen, and Pandu as underdogs in the race, placing the three of them as the fifth-, sixth, and seventh-best candidate in its ranking, respectively.
There is no doubt that the naming of lawyer and antigraft activist Bambang Widjojanto was no more than "sweetener" to play down public controversy in the issue. In rational way of thinking, there is no explainable reason for the lawmakers to eliminate the flawless Bambang, who the selection committee assessed as its best candidate and thus was viewed as the heavy favorite in the race among the public.
Although it could hardly be described as the worst composition for KPK, the current one is without doubt would be a setback for the country's top anticorruption commission.
Among the five new executives of KPK (the four new executives plus the incumbent Busyro Muqoddas), the absence of a financial and auditing expert is hardly understandable.
In many occasions, lawmakers repeatedly uttered about the importance for KPK to focus not only on prosecuting corruptors but also on preventing corruption practices to occur. While prosecuting would punish corruptors and instigate fears among the people, preventive measures, the lawmakers argued, would make people who want to commit corruption were “unable” to do such practices and reduce corruption tally in the long run.
But why does the KPK’s new five executives comprise one prosecutor (Zulkarnaen) and four lawyers (Abraham, Bambang Busyro, Pandupraja), yet there was not any expert who has background in financial and auditing investigation?
Among the eight names proposed by the government selection panel to the House, there were two candidates who met the criterion: Yunus Husein, the former chief of the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK); and Handoyo Sudrajat, the KPK internal affairs director. The two were rated highly and deemed as frontrunners, too, as Yunus and Handoyo was ranked by the selection panel as the second- and fourth-best candidates in its ranking, respectively.
If lawmakers were talking about preventive measures, then they should definitely choose person with expertise in auditing and financial investigations. They could, without doubt, strengthen the KPK’s supervision system or even established a new scheme that could limit the corruptors’ assets-movement –and surely potential corruptors would have to think twice to commit fraudulent practices as they had their bank accounts watched closely.
While lawmakers argued that the rejection of Yunus was related to his close ties with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the ruling Democratic Party; but this argument is certainly baseless. In this leaked document of the candidates’ review, the selection panel rated Yunus as the third-highest candidate in the attribute of “independency” after Bambang and Abdullah.
How could Yunus –who garnered 105 compared to the newly elected KPK chief Abraham who earned 94 in “independency”– was rated highly in that criterion if he leaned to certain political figure and thus was not independent?   
In addition to the inexplicable omission of both Yunus and Handoyo, the exclusion of a bold figure such as Abdullah Hehamahua was also a loss in immeasurable extent. He was valiant, independent, and –as an officer at the KPK– knew exactly the inside problems of the KPK and how to fix them.
The only ones who dislike a great anticorruption fighter like Abdullah perhaps would be the corruptors themselves. Portraying Abdullah as a fearless figure would be an understatement. He was described at his best with his own words, which he uttered during his fit-and-proper test with the lawmakers: "I want to be murdered by corruptors."
From the politics-ridden selection process for the new KPK leaders, we could see the major flaw of our widely applauded democracy. That is, when the personal interests of our directly elected politicians set aside the country’s anticorruption agenda, which in fact should become the main priority.
In Indonesia, it was hilarious to know that the corruptors themselves were given the mandate to choose the leaders for the country’s anticorruption body. It is very much the same with a serial killer who has the authority to choose the team of detectives that would investigate his case –surely, it would be rational choice for him to pick the less-skilled detectives to avoid getting caught. 

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