Nationalism Knowledge Test results not proper basis for dismissing 75 failed KPK employees

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The Corruption Eradication Commission (“KPK”) Building. (Photo: KPC)

IO – 75 Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi – “KPK”) employees failed the Nationalism Knowledge Test (“NKT”), the primary requirement for status change to National Civil Apparatus (Aparatur Sipil Negara – “ASN”). The announcement of NKT result on 5 May 2021 shows that only 1,274 out of the 1,351 KPK employees taking part in the Test meet the requirements. The list of 75 employees who failed to meet requirements contains the names of investigators and inspectors who handled major corruption cases, including Novel Baswedan. KPK Chairman Firli Bahuri then issued a Decree concerning the Result of the Nationalism Knowledge Assessment Test, which stated that the failed 75 KPK employees are to be deactivated since 7 May 2021. 

Many people expressed disapproval of this Decree, including President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”), who believes that the NKT should not be the sole criterion for passing to become ASNs. “The results of the Nationalism Knowledge Test on KPK employees should only serve as input for the betterment of KPK in the future, both in terms of individual KPK employees and the KPK itself as an institution. They should not be arbitrarily made into the basis for dismissing the 75 employees who failed the test,” he said.


The President went on to request that KPK top management, Minister of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reforms, and “I request that all relevant parties, including the Head of the National Civil Service Agency (Badan Kepegawaian Negara – “BKN”) to follow up on the 75 KPK employees who failed the test based on the principles that I have explained,” he said in a press conference on Monday (17/05/2021). 

President Jokowi agreed with the Judgement of the Constitution Court concerning the Testing of Law No. 19 of 20219 concerning the Second Amendment to the KPK Law, which reiterates that the change of status into ASN must not detriment the professional rights of KPK employees. “It is only natural for KPK employees as human beings to have flaws and weaknesses. Therefore, the humane thing is to provide them with the opportunity to correct and improve themselves, among others through official training and education concerning nationalism knowledge. We simply need to take improvement steps at both individual and organizational level in this case.” 

A researcher of the Gadjah Mada University Faculty of Law’s Anti-Corruption Research Center (Pusat Kajian Anti Korupsi – “Pukat”), Zaenur Rohman, expressed his agreement with President Jokowi. “After this statement by President Jokowi, the top management of KPK should have allowed the 75 employees who failed the NKT to return. They should be reinstituted in their positions and perform their duties and responsibilities as they were before, with due notice that they failed the test and a note that they should get extra education on the subject,” he said on Tuesday (18/05/2021). 

Zaenur further noted that President Jokowi clearly stated that he agreed with the Constitution Court, “That the change of KPK employees’ status into ASN must not be detrimental to these employees. Therefore, I believe that in the future, the process of status change must also include special official education and training for employees who fail the NKT. This Test must not be detrimental to employees, it must not serve as sole basis of dismissal from employment. The passing or failure of this extraneous education and training must not be the basis of career decisions, as it works to the detriment of employees,” he said. 

In view of the President’s statement, Zaenur then requests that the KPK Monitoring Council (Dewan Pengawas – “Dewas”) intervene, by auditing the execution of NKT. “The audit is meant to ensure that there is no violation of ethics, no abuse of authority within the KPK when it performs internal functions. KPK Chairman has created NKT as a new requirement not previously regulated in Government Regulation No. 41 of 2021 and Law No. 19 of 2019 (regulations concerning the KPK). As the execution of NKT created a polemic, it should be thoroughly audited,” he said. “As this procedure is autonomously added by KPK Chairman and its materials are controversial, discriminative, and not correlated to the duties and responsibilities of KPK employees, I suspect that NKT is merely a ploy by the current KPK Chairman, Firli Bahuri, to get rid of specific persons, especially critical employees. The audit is necessary to prevent NKT from being deviated into such bad purposes by anyone in the KPK in the future.” 

Member of Dewas KPK Syamsuddin Haris also expressed his agreement with President Jokowi that bad Nationalism Knowledge Test results cannot serve as basis for dismissing KPK employees in an interview on Monday (17/05/2021). 

“I believe that the process of changing the status of KPK employees into ASNs should not be detrimental to these employees, as has been considered by the Constitution Court when deciding on the Material Test of Law No. 19 of 2019 concerning the Second Amendment to Law No. 30 of 2002 concerning the Corruption Eradication Commission.” (eka)