APSN Banner

Sacked Indonesian graft-busters to fight dismissal in court

Jakarta Post - September 30, 2021

Agencies, Jakarta – Dozens of employees controversially removed from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) will appeal their dismissal, staff members said on Thursday, fighting what they regard as a move to weaken a body that prosecuted hundreds of politicians and businessmen, Reuters reports.

Fifty-seven KPK staff were fired after being told they had failed a civil service exam, the results of which they claim have been withheld. The Indonesian Ombudsman and the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) believe that the test was compromised by maladministration and human rights violations, respectively, but the KPK has defended the exam.

On their last day of work on Thursday, employees lamented their departure.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sad," said investigator Yudi Purnomo Harahap, one of three employees who confirmed a plan to appeal to the state administrative court.

"There's sadness in leaving this office in such an inhumane way," Yudi told Reuters.

The President's office referred Reuters to the KPK's spokesperson, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the employees' appeal and allegations of foul play.

At the KPK office in Jakarta, former KPK staffers praised the employees, who they said were being punished for their commitment to fighting graft, and for making powerful enemies.

"They're heroes, they've dedicated themselves to eradicating corruption without favor," said former KPK chief Abraham Samad.

The National Police chief this week said dismissed employees could join the force, an offer Yudi said he appreciated, adding colleagues were considering it.

Overall, 1,300 staff took the test, part of a transition for employees of the independent KPK into the state bureaucracy.

Controversy has surrounded the composition of the test, with employees asked about their sexual desires or whether they pledged allegiance to the state ideology of Pancasila over their religion.

The KPK has previously denied the exam was designed as a pretext to sack employees, as alleged in June by Novel Baswedan, one of the country's best known graft investigators.

Critics say the KPK, established in 2002, has weakened under President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, through revisions to a 2019 law, revisions that led to violent street demonstrations.

"There should be no systematic weakening of the institution [...] because our transparency and accountability will always be questioned," Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, chairman of the opposition Democratic Party, told Reuters.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD said on Twitter on Wednesday that the controversy surrounding the KPK employees "can now be ended" following the job offers from the police, asking critics and the public to move forward, The Jakarta Post reported.

According to National Police chief Gen. Listyo Sigit Prabowo, KPK employees who failed the civics test, organized by the KPK between March and April, would be recruited as "civil servants in the police's anticorruption directorate".

Listyo did not further specify the positions, but he said the police force regarded the track record and experience of the ousted KPK employees in eradicating corruption as useful in strengthening the police as an institution.

The police had sent a letter requesting the transfer of employees to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who, according to Listyo, approved the request.

Activists have described the police's offer as ironic because it showed that the employees had the qualities to become civil servants even though they failed the test and that it further underscored many findings that the test was irrelevant and marred by irregularities.

The KPK, which has spearheaded Indonesia's long battle against corruption, has frequently been in conflict with the police, a conflict that has occasionally erupted into dramatic confrontations attracting much public attention.

One of most notable conflicts was dubbed the battle between "the gecko and the crocodile" – a characterization that reflected the modest bureaucratic standing of the KPK when compared with the police's immense manpower of hundreds of thousands of personnel and its budget of billions.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2021/09/30/sacked-indonesian-graft-busters-to-fight-dismissal-in-court.htm