Indonesia's political crisis deepens with arrest of antigraft official
JAKARTA, Indonesia – Indonesian police arrested Bambang Widjojanto, a deputy chairman of the powerful Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), on Friday morning, January 23, deepening a political crisis that is dividing the country.
"At 9 am, I got a call from Bambang's aide. He said Bambang was arrested by people who claimed to be from the Criminal Investigation Division," KPK deputy chairman Johan Budi told KompasTV.
Police later confirmed the arrest, and said it was in relation to an election dispute dating back to 2010, where Bambang served as a lawyer and before he was appointed KPK commissioner.
"Bambang asked someone to give a false statement before the Constitutional Court with regard to the 2010 election case in West Kotawaringin, Central Kalimantan," Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Ronny Sompie said. (READ: Wakil Ketua KPK Bambang Widjojanto ditangkap Polisi)
The arrest, however, comes at the height of renewed tensions between the National Police and the KPK. The antigraft agency remains to be the most trusted public institution in Indonesia, having jailed several high-ranking politicians and government officials over the years, including police generals. (READ: Learning from Indonesia's corruption crackdown)
This round of tension between the two institutions began on January 13, when KPK named Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan a corruption suspect, just a few days after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo named him the sole National Police chief nominee. KPK says it has evidence that Budi received $5.7 million from a company called Pacific Blue International through the bank account of his son.
A day after KPK's move, the first perceived attack against KPK chairman Abraham Samad took place: An image of him being intimate with an Indonesian beauty queen circulated online, but officials and netizens were quick to prove it as fake.
Despite all this, on Thursday, January 15, Budi was endorsed by the House of Representatives, with strong support from major political parties including Jokowi's own, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). Budi used to be the adjutant of PDI-P chairwoman Megawati Sukarnoputri when she was Indonesian president. (READ: Jokowi faces first major political crisis)
On this day, the hashtag #ShameOnYouJokowi trended in Indonesia for the first time, with public support clearly behind KPK. The public demanded Jokowi not proceed with Budi's inauguration.
But on Friday, January 16, Jokowi decided to remove the sitting police chief, Gen. Sutarman, who was not due to retire until October 2015, but delayed Budi's nomination as police chief. The move led to former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to accuse Jokowi of "cleaning up" his appointees in a Facebook post, a charge Jokowi denied also through a Facebook post. (READ: Perbedaan SBY dan Jokowi dalam seleksi calon Kapolri)
On Monday, January 19, KPK began summoning police generals to interrogate them in relation to the corruption case against Budi.
On Wednesday, January 21, Budi filed a case against two KPK leaders, Samad and Bambang, with the Attorney General's Office, accusing them of abuse of power.
On Thursday, January 22, PDI-P leaders held a press conference and accused Samad of politicking and violating the KPK's code of ethics. They accused Samad of lobbying PDI-P leaders in order to be named Jokowi's vice president, insinuating that the investigation against Budi is in retaliation for his not being chosen as vice president. PDI-P said they also filed an ethics complaint against Samad with the KPK. (READ: PDI-P: Abraham Samad bermain dengan api)
As news broke on Friday of Bambang's arrest, the hashtag #SaveKPK began to quickly trend on Twitter, and anti-corruption activists called on people to go to the KPK building in South Jakarta to in a show of support for the agency. (READ: #SaveKPK jadi trending topic di Twitter)
The hashtag #WhereAreYouJokowi also trended, as people called on Jokowi to step in and sort out the growing crisis.