By Budiman Tanuredjo, Kompas daily, 4 July 2017
The actions of the Indonesian House of Representatives Committee of Inquiry into the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) are becoming increasingly absurd. The Inquiry Committee is to go on safari to Pondok Bambu and Sukamiskin prisons to meet inmates convicted of corruption offences. It is hoped the Inquiry Committee will find information on how the corruption convicts were treated inappropriately by the Commission.
“We want to look for information about anything they have felt while they were witnesses, suspects and prisoners convicted in corruption cases,” said Deputy Chairman of the Inquiry Committee Rep. Risa Mariska (PDIP-West Java), House member for the electoral district covering the towns of Bogor and Bekasi. She said the Inquiry Committee has received information there was improper treatment when the suspects were interviewed by the Corruption Eradication Commission.
Doubtless the Inquiry Committee will not have any trouble meeting any number of corruption convicts. Take for instance former Chief Justice of Indonesia’s Constitutional Court Akil Mochtar, former Democrat Party Representative and party treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin, former Democrat Party Representative and party secretary-general Anas Urbaningrum, former Democrat Party Representative Angelina Sondakh, former Banten province Governor Atut Chosiyah, along with any number of other names. From them, one can guess, will emerge any amount of ammunition to finish off the Commission as an ad hoc institution ending in the Commission being disbanded or neutered.
Parahyangan University criminal law lecturer Agustinus Pohan views the effort of the Inquiry Committee as an attempt by politicians to take revenge on the Commission. “The fight against corruption is now dealing with white-collar plunderers who want to prove their power to pay back,” Pohan said.
Earlier, Deputy Chairman of the House Inquiry Committee into the Corruption Eradication Commission Rep. Taufiqulhadi (Nasdem-East Java) planned to invite constitutional law experts to justify the legality of the Inquiry. “Some say this inquiry is not appropriate. Different opinions are all right but we hope it can be kept balanced,” said the National Democratic Party politician, as quoted by Kompas daily on 30 June 2017.
The action of the Inquiry Committee in inviting constitutional law experts Professor Dr Yusril Ihza Mahendra and Professor Jimly Asshiddiqie will be a priority before it calls Rep. Miryam S Haryani (Hanura-West Java) who has been detained by the Commission. Miryam was declared a suspect by the Commission over allegations of providing false information. Her case is to go to trial soon.
The origins of the House Inquiry Committee started when the Commission leadership rejected a request from House of Representatives Commission III to make public the recording of the examination of Miryam Haryani by Commission investigators. The Commission refused to make the recording public without a trial. Up until now, recordings resulting from wiretaps have always been made public in trial hearings. Previously as a witness appearing before the Criminal Corruption Court, Miryam retracted part of her testimony contained in a brief of evidence giving as the reason that she had been coerced by Commission investigators.
In response to the retraction of her testimony in the brief of evidence, senior Commission investigator Novel Baswedan was examined as a witness in the trial. Novel testified there had been no intimidation or coercion. Novel went so far as to claim Miryam had been influenced by House of Representatives colleagues to retract the testimony in the brief of evidence. Novel mentioned several names including Rep. Bambang Soesatyo (Golkar-Central Java) and Rep. Masinton Pasaribu (PDIP-Jakarta) as those who had influenced Miryam. She denied ever having referred to their names. From this, House Commission III asked the Corruption Eradication Commission to make the recording public which the Commission refused to do.
Whether it is related or not is not known, but Novel Baswedan was attacked with acid by an unknown assailant several days after testifying. His eyesight was damaged. He was taken to hospital and is still receiving ongoing treatment. Police are still investigating the case but so far the person who sprayed Novel with acid has not been identified.
After undergoing further questioning at the Commission’s Jakarta offices on Wednesday 21 June, Hanura Party politician Rep. Miryam S Haryani’s (Hanura-West Java) brief of evidence was declared complete, or Form 21 was issued, and ready for trial in relation to the case of providing false testimony in the electronic identity card implementation corruption trial.
The House of Representatives Inquiry Committee into the Commission seems to need to look for political support from constitutional law experts. Earlier 357 academics from various universities and a range of disciplines issued a “petition” rejecting the House Inquiry Committee into the Commission on a number of grounds. The 357 academics included Professor Dr Mahfud MD, Professor Dr Denny Indrayana, Professor Dr Rhenald Kasali and many other prominent academics.
Inviting experts in constitutional law or inviting anyone else is obviously perfectly legitimate. The Inquiry Committee has indeed been given legislative authority to do that. No one is denying that the House of Representatives has the right of inquiry, the right of interpellation and the right to express opinions. But what actually has become an issue is whether it is appropriate for the House to exercise the right of inquiry for the Corruption Eradication Commission. The Commission is a law enforcement agency and an independent institution, not part of the government. Is the action of the House of Representatives in exercising the right of inquiry in line with the will of the people it represents?
Resistance to the use of the House of Representatives’ right of inquiry for the Commission indeed has been strong. The open letter of 357 academics across numerous universities and disciplines is one form of this. These academics have very clearly captured the intention of the House of Representatives in using the right of inquiry as to weaken the Corruption Eradication Commission. The academics have rejected the use of the House’s right of inquiry for the Commission.
Presently, the Commission is investigating a case of alleged corruption involving the procurement of an electronic national identity card involving a number of House members, including House Speaker Rep. Setya Novanto (Golkar-East Nusa Tenggara) who has been banned from travelling overseas. The alleged loss to the public revenue is substantial.
A Kompas daily poll of Monday 8 May 2017 also contained the same message. As many as 58.9 percent of respondents felt the House decision to use the right of inquiry did not represent the interests of the community. While those who thought that it did represent the interests of the community amounted to 35.6 percent. The majority of respondents (72.4 percent) believed the use of the House right of inquiry into the Commission was related to the Commission’s investigation into the electronic identity card corruption case.
In the virtual world, one internet user, Virgo Sulianti Gohardi, garnered support for a petition against the right of inquiry on the site Change.org. As of midday Friday 30 May 2017, the petition had been signed by 44,350 people. Virgo targeted the petition to be signed by 50,000 people.
In terms of representation theory, the formation of the House of Representative Inquiry Committee for the Commission really does not have social legitimacy or has a very low level of representation. In addition, the Democrat Party (PD) House faction, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) House faction, and the National Awakening Party (PKB) House faction have refused to join the Inquiry Committee.
“The Democrats are not responsible for anything in the Inquiry Committee,” said House Deputy Speaker from the Democrat Party Rep. Agus Hermanto (DP-Central Java) at the congress building while stressing that the Democrat Party does not agree with the Inquiry Committee for the Commission.
“We reject the weakening of the Corruption Eradication Commission through the inquiry. The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) was being consistent by not sending any members, but the PKS is still critical of the Commission,” said Head of the PKS Advisory Council Rep. Hidayat Nur Wahid (PKS-Jakarta). National Awakening Party (PKB) party Chairman Rep. Muhaimin Iskandar (PKB-East Java) was also of the same opinion, rejecting the use of a House inquiry into the Commission.
History of House inquiries
The right of inquiry is a constitutional right of the House of Representatives. No one can deny this. Article 20A Paragraph 2 of the 1945 Constitution explicitly regulates the right of inquiry. During the period of parliamentary government in the 1950s, the issue of a right of inquiry was also provided for by Public Law No. 6 of 1954 concerning the Right of Inquiry.
Over Indonesia’s history, the right of inquiry was first used in 1959, starting with a resolution by RM Margono Djojohadikusumo that the House of Representatives use its right of inquiry for the government’s efforts to obtain and how it had used foreign exchange. As recorded by Subardjo in The Use of the Right of Inquiry by the Indonesian House of Representatives in Overseeing Government Policy, an inquiry committee during Prime Minister Ali Sastroamidjojo’s first cabinet (30 July 1953-12 August 1955) was given six months. However, this was subsequently extended twice and the committee completed its work in March 1956 during the administration of Prime Minister Burhanuddin Harahap’s cabinet (12 August 1955-24 March 1956). Unfortunately, the fate of this inquiry committee and its results are unclear.
During the New Order period, the House of Representatives also used the right of inquiry several times in relation to the Pertamina case. However, efforts to shake the New Order government failed and were rejected by a plenary session of the House. The New Order government was strong enough to prevent the use of the right of inquiry which had been initiated by Santoso Danuseputro (PDI) and HM Syarakwie Basri (FPP).
In the Reformasi (reform) era, the right of inquiry has also been used. However, all the targets of the right of inquiry have been the government and this is consistent with the legislation.
Legislation on the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), House of Representatives (DPR), Regional Representatives Council (DPD) and regional legislative assemblies (DPRD) regulates the right of inquiry. Article 79 concerning the Rights of the House of Representatives provides among other things that the House of Representatives possesses the right of inquiry. The right of inquiry is the right of the House of Representatives to investigate the implementation of a law and/or government policy which is related to important, strategic matters and has a broad impact on the life of the community, nation and state which allegedly conflicts with the law. The legislation also provides that an inquiry committee has to be joined by all House of Representatives factions.
From a legality standpoint, the House of Representatives Inquiry Committee for the Commission also does not satisfy the aspect of legality. Historically, the right of inquiry was given to the House of Representatives to investigate government policies which are in conflict with the law. Whether it was the New Order government or post-Reform governments, it has only been the current 2014-2019 House of Representatives which has innovated by using the right of inquiry for a national commission named the Corruption Eradication Commission. The Commission is not the government. The Commission is a law enforcement agency.
The law also requires that an inquiry committee draw members from all factions in the House of Representatives. Thus, when the Democrat Party (DP) House faction, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) House faction, and the National Awakening Party (PKB) House faction did not send any representatives, the jurisdictional legitimacy of the Inquiry Committee became problematic.
Members of the public in the Healthy Indonesia Movement unfurled posters and banners in front of the offices of the Corruption Eradication Commission in Jakarta on Thursday (15/6). Consisting of writers, artists and anti-corruption activists, the crowd stated that they rejected the inquiry being rolled out by the House of Representatives.
From the political perspective, those who initiated the use of the right of inquiry are overwhelmingly from the parties which support the government. There are the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) House faction which is the main supporter of the government of President Joko Widodo together with the National Democratic Party (Nasdem) and the People’s Conscience Party (Partai Hanura). This coalition of government supporters is actually the group which has been keen to propose the use of the House right of inquiry.
Then there is President Jokowi. He has been placed in the position of a hostage by party officials of his own PDIP. President Jokowi has said he can not interfere in the affairs of the House of Representatives because an inquiry is the business of the House. President Jokowi hopes only that the Commission is still strengthened.
President Jokowi’s attitude towards the Commission feels different this time. When there was conflict between the Corruption Eradication Commission and Indonesia’s National Police, and the public supported the Commission, President Jokowi demonstrated a firm political stance in support of the Commission. Likewise, when the Commission investigator Novel Baswedan was to be arrested, President Jokowi called loudly for Novel not to be arrested. However, this time President Jokowi is like a hostage, allowing the Commission to be de-legitimized by a coalition of his own supporters in the House of Representatives.
Will the Corruption Eradication Commission be paralyzed during the term of President Joko Widodo? History will record the answer.