Relations between Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Megawati Sukarnoputri, the woman who was instrumental in putting him in power, are continuing to deteriorate, with Megawati’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) pushing a bill to diminish the clout of the powerful Corruption Eradication Commission and Jokowi saying he has no plans to revise the law governing the commission. (READ: Will Indonesia’s anti-graft agency ever get its mojo back?)
The rift with Megawati has been growing for months after Jokowi refused to appoint Budi Gunawan, a close personal friend of Megawati, the National Police Chief in March. (READ: Finally, Jokowi dumps controversial police chief nominee)
In April, at the PDI-P’s party enclave in Bali, Megawati delivered a speech with Jokowi sitting in the audience that in effect told the President he was a product of the party and that his job was to remain in its service. Indonesia’s system of democracy, she said “regulates that the president and vice president naturally enforce a political party’s policy line,” she said.
She said she had faced “many betrayals,” adding that “multiple times I was stabbed in the back” because of “political ambitions for power.” It was a humiliating moment. Jokowi was not invited to speak at the congress. She is also said to be angry because the PDI-P was given only four positions in the 34-member cabinet last October – no more than any of the other parties in Jokowi’s coalition.
In early June, Megawati’s rock musician son, Prananda Prabowo (no relation to Subianto Prabowo), released a song titled “Traitor,” that party insiders say was aimed at two top ministers said to have the presidential ear and who provide a bulwark against PDI-P influence.
It is the KPK that seems to particularly anger Megawati. She has powerful allies in the police and courts who agree that the agency must be reined in. One western observer said the KPK is “toast.” Some military allies of Jokowi have said they will “protect” the KPK, raising the specter of open tension between the two dominant institutions. According to figures compiled by the Jakarta Globe, the KPK has prosecuted and jailed more members of the PDI-P than any other Indonesian political party.
Ironically, the organization was set up in 2002 when Megawati was president. In the 13 years since, it has become the most formidable anti-graft organization in the country by far, boasting a 100 percent conviction rate. Since it became operational in 2003, it has investigated and prosecuted 86 cases of bribery including members of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s cabinet. (READ: Like Indonesia, can PH make corrupt rot in jail?)
Since the time Jokowi came into office, National Police officials, the legislature and others have been attempting to defang the organization. But the pace has picked up. After Jokowi withdrew Budi’s name from consideration for the top post over the corruption allegations, the police are said to have reacted with fury.
In April, a Jakarta court used shaky legal grounds to say the KPK had no right to charge Budi – the first time in the 13-year history of the agency that a trial court has intervened in an action. The police took over the case against Budi and shortly after announced there was no case.
The police have also gone after numerous KPK officials, using a variety of cold cases and questionable charges to drag the agency’s leading officials, including chairman Abraham Samad and his deputy Bambang Widjojanto, into Indonesia’s notoriously corrupt courts. Dozens of other officials are under threat.
With most of officialdom arrayed against the KPK, Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly, a PDI-P member, announced last week that he would submit measure to the House of Representatives that would cut the KPK’s powers, spurring Jokowi to summon Yasona to the presidential palace to tell him he had no intention of revising the law, which needs to be included in this year’s docket of priority legislation.
“The government never proposed any amendments to the KPK law,” Andi Wdjajanto, the cabinet secretary, told reporters in Jakarta. “There are 37 bills included in the 2015 [priority package], 10 of them submitted by the government. The KPK law isn’t among them.”