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Watchdog blames Jokowi, ministers for corruption perception index slump

Kompas.com - February 1, 2023

Syakirun Niam, Jakarta – Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) believes that the decline in Indonesia's 2022 corruption perception index (IPK) score to 34 points out of 100 cannot be separated from the permissive attitude to corruption taken by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's cabinet.

ICW researcher Kurnia Ramadhana says that one of Widodo's subordinates that showed such a permissive attitude was Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.

"On several occasions he has commented on sting operations (OTT) with destructive remarks", said Ramadhana in an official press release on Wednesday February 1.

The IPK measures the perception of corruption in the public sector. The IPK (or CPI) released by Transparency International Indonesia (TII) orders 180 countries in the world according to the level of corruption. Countries with a score of 0 are very susceptible to corruption while a score of 100 means they are free of corruption.

Ramadhana revealed that a permissive attitude was also shown by Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian who has publicly asked law enforcement agencies not to take action against regional heads.

Karnavian asked that law enforcement officials work alongside regional heads. "Statements like this of course show an attitude that's at odds with hopes to improve corruption eradication", said Ramadhana.

The other problem that allegedly made the IPK drop is the weakening of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) through revisions to the KPK Law in 2019.

In ICW's view, the KPK used to be an institution that aggressively sought to eradicate political corruption. "And as if that wasn't enough, the president allowed problematic figures to lead the anti-graft institution", said Ramadhana.

Furthermore, the president and the House of Representatives (DPR) through their policies have not supported strengthening the fight against corruption.

According to Ramadhana, over the last five years the laws that have been enacted have been designed simply to weaken the eradication of corruption.

He gave as examples several pieces of legislation including revisions to the Criminal Code (KUHP), the Law on Correctional Institutions, the Jobs Creation Law, the Constitutional Court Law and the Mineral and Coal Mining Law.

ICW believes that all of the claims that these laws support the eradication of corruption are just an illusion.

"Likewise with the president, his political promises during the 2014 and 2019 election campaigns were forgotten just like that in concert with the strengthening of his circle of political interests", he said.

Ramadhana then said that the narrative on eradicating corruption that was conveyed by Widodo was just a sweetener.

According to Ramadhana, the Widodo administration will be remembered as the worst post-reformasi regime in terms of eradicating corruption – referring to the process of political reform that started in 1998.

The dismal state of corruption eradication, said Ramadhana, is the complete opposite of what was declared by Widodo when he attended the commemoration of World Anti-Corruption Day.

At the time Widodo said that corruption is the root of the various challenges and problems of development.

"Looking at Indonesia's IPK, it can be concluded that the thread of the President's remarks on corruption eradication were only to sweeten up his speech", said Ramadhana.

On several occasions Minister Pandjaitan has said that sting operations conducted by the KPK have damaged the country's image.

According to Pandjaitan, there is no need to conduct sting operations if various sectors of the economy are digitalised. With digitalisation, said Pandjaitan, it will be difficult for government officials to commit corruption.

"Because this has changed the country, we don't need to talk all high and mighty, we're OTT-OTT [crazy], that's not actually good, it's really bad for the country", said Pandjaitan at the Thamrin Nine Ballroom in Central Jakarta on Tuesday December 20.

Tito Karnavian meanwhile has asked law enforcement officials not to investigate or summon regional heads. He said he is concerned that regional heads will be afraid of the presence of law enforcement officials so regional policies won't run properly.

"Lest regional heads fear being summoned by APH [law enforcement officials], summoned, lidik (investigated), summoned, lidik, moral will collapse", said Karnavian during his greeting to a Regional Inspectorate coordinating meeting from throughout Indonesia at the Borobudur Hotel in Central Jakarta on Wednesday January 25.

"So, the KPK shouldn't just be doing a little here, a little there, arrests here, arrests there. Yes, look around, but if this digitalisation is already running, I think that (the corruptors) won't be able to play around", he added.

When contacted by Kompas.com, Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment spokesperson Jodi Mahardi said that Pandjaitan's statements do not mean that he does not agree with the KPK's sting operations.

According to Mahardi, Panjaitan is of the view that if there is no improvement to government systems then sting operations will continue to take place. He added that corruptors are becoming more sophisticated in avoiding detection.

Therefore, Mahardi said, Panjaitan is inviting the public to think more progressively, namely how to apply systems that restrict the opportunities for corruption.

"We can see that in advanced countries, right, OTTs rarely happen, [but] this doesn't mean that Pak [Mr] Luhut doesn't agree with OTTs", said Mahardi in an SMS message on Wednesday February 1.

Ministry of Home Affairs information centre head Benny Irwan meanwhile has not responded despite attempts to contact him.

Yesterday, TII released Indonesia's 2022 IPK that showed a four point drop from 38 in 2021 to 34 in 2022. In addition to this, Indonesia's country rating also dropped to 110, declining by 14 points from the previous year's score of 96.

TII Deputy General Secretary Wawan Suyatmiko said that they used nine indicators in measuring the IPK. One of the indicators that was highlighted was the Political Risk Service (PRS), which declined by 13 points from 48 in 2021 to 35 in 2022.

Suyatmiko said that a decline of four points showed a significant change. "This also contributed to the decline in the CPI from 38 to 34 this year", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "ICW Sebut Merosotnya IPK Tak Terlepas dari Pernyataan Luhut dan Tito yang Permisif terhadap Korupsi".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2023/02/01/20345561/icw-sebut-merosotnya-ipk-tak-terlepas-dari-pernyataan-luhut-dan-tito-yan