Indonesia Anti-Graft Body Gets New Leaders After Police Feud

  • Police and parliament will pose obstacles to KPK, analyst says
  • Agency is vital to Indonesia's hopes of tackling corruption

Indonesian lawmakers voted in new leaders at the anti-corruption agency, choosing a team that garnered mixed reviews on its ability to fight graft after a feud with police this year left the organization weakened.

Agus Rahardjo, a former manager of the national procurement agency, was elected head of the organization, known as the KPK, along with four new commissioners. The previous head, Abraham Samad, was suspended while police investigated him for alleged document forgery in a case seen as part of efforts to neutralize the body.

Rahardjo “is a conventional civil servant and he will be making a quantum leap to a far more weighty role, and it remains to be seen how he handles this transition,” said Kevin O’Rourke, author of “Reformasi: The Struggle for Power in Post-Soeharto Indonesia”. “Obstacles posed by the police and parliament will continue to pose problems.”

The KPK has won public trust for prosecuting lawmakers, judges and executives since its formation in 2003, in a country ranked 107th of 175 states and territories in Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perceptions Index. President Joko Widodo pledged to tackle corruption after being elected last year, though the agency’s dispute with police undermined his reform credentials and hurt his popularity.

Lawmakers chose the five-member team from a shortlist that included others with a better track record, according to anti-graft activists. Ade Irawan, a leader of Indonesia Corruption Watch, said the new KPK team was “disappointing.”

“We mustn’t lose hope,” said Priharsa Nugraha, a KPK spokesman, when asked about negative reaction to the new leadership. “Let’s see how they work first.”

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