03/03/2014, 00.00
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Yudhoyono under fire for reducing powers of Anti-Corruption Commission

by Mathias Hariyadi
Parliament has approved new rules that modify the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure. The amendments "reduce" KPK powers and operations. Activists have accused the president of wanting to cover corruption cases that also involve his second son. The issue of corruption will dominate the presidential campaign for the elections in October.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The new corruption laws approved by the Indonesian Parliament (DPR), which amend the Criminal Code (Kuhp) and the Code of Criminal Procedures (Kuhap) , are likely to weaken the anti- Corruption Commission (KPK) mandate. This concerns activists and civil society in Indonesia who fear that the changes will drastically 'reduce' the KPK's ability to combat bribery, kickbacks and corruption. Moreover, already in the past, the Commission leaders had denounced laws enacted by Parliament to hamper the fight against widespread corruption in the country.

Members of civil society believe that the Ministry of Legal Affairs and Human Rights' move hides a plan of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's administration to "castrate" KPK powers.

Over the past three years, the Anti-Corruption Commission has carried out a series of successful operations across the country, targeting high ranking personalities and uncovering sensational cases of corruption in various sectors including the justice system, politics and the economy. These include the arrest of a prominent government minister and the President of the Constitutional Court, the oil scandal and the intrigues that led to the re-election of former Governor of the Central Bank . Moreover, the issue of corruption will be one of the key issues in the next general elections in April and presidential elections in October.

KPK investigations have resulted in heavy sentences opening the prison doors to high profile politicians from the Democratic Party and the pro- Islamist movement Prosperous Justice Party, including the leader Hassan Lufthi.  Political pressures on the Commission have increased in recent weeks, when a corruption story emerged that threatens to involve one of the president's sons, his second son Eddhie " Ibas " Bhaskoro Yudhoyono (pictured) , former secretary general of the Democrats.

For a long time the leading figures of the party, including the parliamentarian Sutan Bathoegana , chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Energy, have denied any involvement of the Yudhoyono family in corruption. A position contradicted by the latest revelations that the KPK has opened a procedure for the lobbying activities carried out by Ibas during an auction on concessions in the field of natural gas. The investigation will shed light on the positions of the same Sutan Bathoegana and 12 other deputies.

Public opinion is increasingly doubtful about President Yudhoyono and his government's real commitment in the fight against corruption, and many believe that the approval of the amendment of the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure is proof that he intends to weaken the KPK . An accusation rejected by his spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha and Vice - Minister for Justice Denny Indrayana, who say the head of state has "always supported" the Commission's initiatives "even when they were promoted without judicial authorization".


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