KPK (no longer) final destination?

Natalius Pigai Commissioner of the National Commission on Human Rights 2012-2017

(Four strategies to strengthen KPK)

IO – President Jokowi’s victory speech in Sentul on 14 July 2019 failed to make reference to corruption eradication and democracy. Naturally, we anti-corruption, democracy, and human right activists thus take a dim view of that speech. Corruption eradication becomes even more difficult with the enactment of the Revised Law concerning the Corruption Eradication Commission (Undang-Undang Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi – “UU KPK”), as the revised law tends to weaken the anti-corruption agency. The condition is worsened by the fact that KPK is now under new leadership that has not proven itself to the public.

However, the policy for building a clean and dignified Government must necessarily be a permanent one. Why? Because corruption is an action generally despised by humanity across the Earth (hostis humanis generis). Therefore, corruption offenders must both be punished properly with social ostracism as well as legal punishment.

Indonesia is chained with ever stronger, deeper corruption links as time goes by. In fact, it is part of our culture. It is one of the nation’s biggest problems. Since 2002, KPK has been working hard to eliminate corruption by performing strict monitoring, prevention, and law enforcement actions. However, we must be aware that corruption has been going on in a well-planned, structured, and massive way because administrative and State procedures provide room for corruption.

Corruption is more than just a reflection of low individual mental and moral condition: it is a social pathology that destroys elementary values, such as honesty and integrity. I appreciate KPK’s various efforts to stop the poverty, unemployment, ignorance, and underdevelopment of the nation and citizens due to leaking State budgets. In the future, the onus on living cleanly and building a dignified Government must not be placed solely on law enforcement officers, but must be shared equally among all components of the citizenry. Strategic partnership between KPK, Government agencies, law enforcement officers, and all elements of civil society to build up awareness of the dangers of corruption is urgent. KPK needs to maintain all of these strategic partnerships in order to be able to eradicate corruption.

Improving a corruption eradication agency like KPK is far from being easy. It requires new, advanced strategies and tactics. It is time for KPK to find obstructions, resolve them, and enact more progressive, and comprehensive, and solid policies. Therefore, KPK needs to solidify its four primary aspects in the future:

1.    Human Resources (Moral Hazard)

a)    KPK must build a planned, systematic, and massive vertical and horizontal awareness of corrupt behavior among both Government and the citizenry of Indonesia. KPK must instill into all components of the nation the conviction that corruption is a foul crime that everyone hates, because it has the same and similar effect as drug crimes and other crimes against humanity. This will make people afraid to be corrupt.

b)    Strengthen its human capacity by improving the knowledge, skills, mental attitude, and morality of law enforcement officers in relation with corruption. It must develop a mentality of professionalism, objectivity, balance, and fairness among law enforcement officers.

2.    Regulations and Governance

KPK must seek out, identify, and close down all gates and channels for corruption, whether in terms of regulations, technical and operational directions, nomenclature, and governance in both the Government (the State) and private (non-state) organizations. Corruption is not just caused of an individual’s mentality, but it is a behavior that makes use of loopholes in Government regulations.

Corruption prevention efforts must start by inventorying all applicable regulations, whether legal, Governmental Regulations, and decrees made by Government agency heads, whether vertical or horizontal. In this context, the book Why Nations Fail written by Daron Acemoğlu clearly states that “a nation fails not because of difference in infrastructure, but because an elite group of economic and political oligarchs control most of the nation’s wealth, and political and legal decisions are made only to strengthen the oligarchs’ efforts to amass riches.”

The serious issue in this context is that the Government continues to use a variant of many regulations created during the New Order. These inherited laws were created and designed to strengthen the political and economic support of the New Order clique. Post-Reformation Governments have failed to sufficiently amend these bad laws. In order to prevent further corruption, KPK urges the Government to seriously implement necessary amendments.

3.    Progressive Law Enforcement

The Law must further be enforced through a professional, objective, impartial, honest, and fair criminal justice system. This is done by, among others, including State officials who trade in influence as corruption criminals. This is a more progressive law enforcement in corruption. The trading of influence for the purpose of personal benefit, or to benefit business partners or specific groups, is a corrupt action that deviates from ethics and morality. These influence traders are the actors of crimes that we frequently find in authoritarian, corrupt, and poor Third World Governments.

The crime of influence trading is just one of many types of corruption that has grown and developed greatly in Indonesia for ages. Just look at how many of our State officials, whether executive, legislative, or judicial trade on their influence: Setya Novanto, Taufik Kurniawan, Irman Gusman. In fact, Azis Syamsudin was recently named a trader of influence in Decentralization Funds. However, even now the Government still has not include trading in influence in the Corruption Crime Law, even though this Law was enacted in 1999 and was partially revised in 2001. When Indonesia ratified the United Nations’ Convention Against Corruption (“UNCAC”) in 2003, or in other opportunities, the Government should have made adjustments to the Corruption Crime Law, such as by including trading of influence as a corruption crime with clear scope of regulation.

4.    Comprehensive Capacity-Building of KPK as an Institution

In the future, KPK will need to build its capacity as an institution to fit modern times. It will need to build a rational management system that is able to respond to the various needs, demands, and awareness of the people who are becoming more aware of the need for a clean bureaucracy and massive corruption eradication. There are 5 major pillars that KPK must develop in terms of building its institutional capacity:

a.    Creating the nomenclature for KPK’s internal organization and institution that includes all needs necessary to achieve KPK’s purpose of establishment: The prevention and eradication of corruption per se, and the supporting system necessary for this.

b.    Establishing a clear, professional work system that regulates the work procedures (Leaders, Deputies, Investigators, and Secretariat) and work administration (Commissioners, Secretaries and Staff Members, Structural Officials, Substantial Executors, and Functional Officials).

c.     Upgrading and modernizing existing structures and facilities in order to allow necessary implementation.

d.    Improving the quality of its human resources, whether in terms of knowledge, skills, and mental and moral attitudes.

e.    Increasing the KPK budget significantly.

It is important for KPK to improve its institutional capacity in order to prevent it from collapsing easily from challenges in management control. It is a fact that KPK is a bogeyman for both corrupt officials and businessmen. Therefore, it is vulnerable to penetration and intervention from various external groups with vested interests, whether the Government, legislative, law enforcement officers, bureaucrats, businessmen, or people who are having trouble with the law. I suggest that in the upcoming term, KPK needs to strengthen and revitalize itself in four directions: First, targeting policies for human resources (law enforcement officers, public servants) that would help build up anti-corruption awareness and attitude; second, keeping regulations and governances from any loopholes that can generate corruption; third, urging the inclusion of influence trading into the Criminal Law; and fourth, strengthening its own institutional capacity.