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New anticorruption body sets high principles for members

Jakarta Post - October 9, 2001

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, Jakarta – A lawyer expressed the fear here on Monday that no Indonesian would be capable of meeting the criteria for membership of a "powerful" new commission to eradicate corruption (KPTPK) which would have a remit and powers far in excess of other law enforcement institutions.

Frans Hendra Winarta, a member of the National Law Commission, told a discussion that the members of such a commission should be impartial, imbued with moral and professional integrity, and be far removed from the culture of corruption of the past.

Monday's discussion, organized by the Society for Humanity and Justice (Humanika), analyzed the extent of the anticorruption commission's powers.

Frans said that a white paper on the establishment of the commission had been handed over to the House of Representatives for deliberation.

He pointed out that the wide powers to be entrusted to the commission could be prone to abuse. The suggested powers included the banning of suspects from traveling overseas, intercepting communications, monitoring the work of other law enforcement institutions and even reopening decided cases.

"We have figured out the criteria for joining the 'supercommission', but no names immediately come to mind. No one fits the criteria listed in the white paper. We did find a few names, but either they were already too old for the work or had already passed away," Frans remarked.

Teras Narang, chairman of the House of Representatives' Commission II for legal affairs, warned that some of the commission's tasks overlapped with those of the Public Servants' Wealth Audit Commission (KPKPN).

Admitting that the white paper on the establishment of the commission had yet be debated, he suggested that the KPKPN be dissolved as it did not have the power to investigate the sources of public officials' assets. "Just integrate it with the anticorruption commission. I'm afraid that such an overlap of authority could be used by the corruptors to seek out loopholes," he said.

John Pires, a member of the KPKPN, stressed that what the country needed was not the establishment of another commission, which would only place an additional burden on the state budget, but rather a way of strengthening the existing bodies in charge of supervising state officials and institutions, the police and the public prosecution service.

The proposal to establish the commission to eradicate corruption is in line with Law No. 31/1999 on corruption. The government had established a joint team to eradicate corruption as an embryonic version of the commission, but this was then disbanded by the Supreme Court for exceeding its authority.