Thursday 23 January 2014


'Big brother' MACC not as effective as Indonesia's anti-graft body

Alyaa Alhadjri

KUALA LUMPUR: There are "no constraints" that can stop the Indonesian Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) from pursuing high-profile graft cases ahead of the republic's presidential elections in July this year.

Former KPK deputy chairman Erry Riyana Hardjapamekas told theantdaily that he believes the commission will proceed with its prescribed duties without any fear or favour as there is nothing to stop them from doing so.

"KPK will push on to get the best evidence (and proceed to press charges)," said Erry when met after a forum titled "De-Linking Power and Corruption" which was organised in conjunction with the launch of a new NGO, the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) on Jan 17.

When asked how the ongoing KPK probes will impact public's perception and outcome of the upcoming presidential elections, Erry said it all depends on the person being investigated.

"At the moment, the ruling Partai Demokrat (Democratic Party) appears to be more affected (by graft probes) but we don't know about the future," he said.

According to a recent periodic survey conducted by Indonesian newspaper Kompas, among 1,400 respondents across 34 provinces, support for the Democratic Party had dropped to 7.2% from the initial 11.1% in December 2012.

The Democratic Party under Indonesia's current president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had swept into power in 2009 on an "anti-corruption platform" but over the past few months, at least three of its top officials, including party chairman Anas Urbaningrum were investigated for involvement in various high-profile graft cases.

Anas was detained on Jan 10 as part of investigations centered on the construction of the Hambalang sports complex. He was accused of having received Rupiah 2.21 billion in kickbacks from the winning contractors and channelling them towards securing his position as the Democratic Party chief during internal elections in 2010.

Erry is one of the five founding members of the KPK in 2003 and he had earlier described the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) as a "big brother" to the republic's anti-graft body, despite the MACC only being established in 2009. Formerly, it was known as the Anti-Corruption Agency.

While observers noted that there is still a long way to go towards eradicating corruption in Indonesia, recent actions taken by the KPK appears to have a positive impact towards restoring public's faith in the institution.

The KPK's anti-graft net had in October last year even succeeded to ensnare Indonesia's Constitutional Court chief justice Akil Mochtar for allegedly accepting a bribe to fix the court's ruling on a contested election.

Indonesian media also reported that the KPK in its annual report last year recorded a 70% increase in the number of cases investigated and a success to save almost Rupiah 1.2 trillion in estimated national financial losses due to graft.

On the other hand, public's perception towards the MACC continues to suffer a setback following revelations of multi-billion dollar scandals which the commission had allegedly failed to investigate due to 'political interference'.

The acquittal of two senior former federal ministers implicated in the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ), Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik and Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy, further cast doubts over MACC's impartiality in combating graft involving members of the ruling Barisan Nasional.

The forum on Jan 17 was organised by online portal Malaysiakini. Also on the panel were Islamic Renaissance Front chairman Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa (a C4 director) and MACC senior deputy director of investigation Han Chee Rull.

Former Bar Council president Dato S Ambiga also spoke at the event.