Religions reject bid to weaken Indonesian anti-graft body

Interfaith leaders join opposition against parliamentary bid to amend laws on how Corruption Eradication Commission is run
Religions reject bid to weaken Indonesian anti-graft body

Indonesian religious leaders meet Corruption Eradication Commission officials to offer their support against proposed changes in the way it is run at its office in South Jakarta. (Photo supplied)

 

Interfaith leaders Indonesia have joined growing opposition to a proposed amendment of the law governing the country’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), which they claimed would paralyze the anti-graft body.

Opposition has been increasing across the country to proposed changes to the 2002 law being discussed in parliament.

An online petition launched this week against making changes has more than 60,000 signatures.

Leaders of Indonesia’s main religions — Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam and Protestantism — said proposed changes to a law that has brought many corrupt officials to justice would undermine anti-graft efforts.

“We from the religious institutions in Indonesia call on the president not to support actions that weaken the KPK,” they said in a joint statement after meeting commission officials on Sept. 10.

Among the changes proposed are restrictions on the ability to wiretap targets and the establishment of a supervisory board with members elected by parliament.

This would mean the commission would no longer be an independent body, the religious leaders said.

The KPK has arrested at least 255 national and regional lawmakers since it was set up, along with at least 130 governors, regents, and mayors, including former Aceh governor Iswandi Yusuf who was recently sentenced to eight years for bribery.

 “This proves that KPK has been effective in efforts to tackle graft and safeguard the country’s finances,” the religious leaders said.

Since it was set up two decades ago, various efforts have been made to weaken the commission, including by parliament.

Father Agustinus Heri Wibowo, executive secretary of the Indonesian bishops’ conference, who was among the interfaith leaders at the commission meeting, said the Catholic Church opposes any attempt to weaken the anti-graft body.

“We support any measures that strengthen the institution,” news portal Kompas.com quoted Father Wibowo as saying.

Ubaidillah from Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization with over 80 million members, said Muslims were wholeheartedly against efforts to shackle the KPK.

“We have called on Muslims to fight against this bid to amend the law,” he told ucanews.com.

Suhadi Sendjaja, representing the country’s Buddhists echoed that view.

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“We must support the KPK to ensure justice for Indonesian people,” he said.

President Joko Widodo said any revision should not include anything that would weaken the commission or threaten its independence.

"I will look at and make sure this does not happen to the KPK," Widodo said on Sept. 11.

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