02/22/2016, 16.00
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For Indonesian Bishops, changes to anti-corruption legislation is being manipulated by political interests

by Mathias Hariyadi

The Joko Widodo administration plans changes to Law 33-2012, which set up an anti-corruption commission. For Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and Confucian leaders, parliament seeks to weaken investigators’ powers to cover corrupt politicians. Indonesia ranks 88th (out of 168) on corruption index.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Changes to anti-corruption legislation "is manipulated by political interests. One of the purposes is to allow politicians involved - for embezzlement, collusion with businessmen etc. – to inflate the cost of state projects and acquisitions, especially with respect to the recent infrastructure projects promoted by President Joko Widodo,” said Fr Edy Purwanto, executive secretary of the Indonesian Bishops Conference (KWI).

Speaking to AsiaNews, the clergyman said that the leaders of all religions, except for the Protestant Synod, joined Muhammadiyah (the country second largest Islamic organisation) to criticise changes proposed by President Widodo to the law that set up the Anti-Corruption Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi, KPK), thus weakening it.

According to Transparency International’s latest data (2015), Indonesia ranks 88th out of 168 countries in terms of the ‘Corruption Perceptions Index’ – the latter ranks countries/territories based on how corrupt a country’s public sector is perceived to be. In terms of ‘Control of corruption’, which reflects perceptions of the extent to which public power is exercised for private gain, Indonesia scores -0.7 on a -2.5/+2.5 range where the higher score indicates strong control of corruption.

In recent years, the KPK brought to justice many provincial governors as well as leading government officials, like the Sports minister, the Religious Affairs minister, and, in the latest case, the Energy and Resources minister. All of them served in the administration of President Yudhoyono (2009-2014).

In their message, religious leaders back current KPK head Agus Rahardjo, who said that he would resign if government reforms were adopted. Rahardjo added that he appreciated the support of religious leaders, promising that he would fight attempts to weaken the existing legislation (Law N. 33:2012). In his view, the latter is needed to control the level of corruption in the country, which otherwise is likely to increase dramatically.

For his part, after meeting with lawmakers, President Widodo decided to postpone the discussion of reform.

Muhammadiyah head Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak said that religious groups and activists fear the creation of a "supervisory body," which may veto KPK’s actions, from wiretapping to arrests. If denied these powers, the KPK would be ineffectual.

"Together with Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Confucians,” the Bishops' Conference has always said that it is opposed to government and parliament plans to weaken the KPK,” Fr Purwanto noted. “The Catholic Church joins political parties, observers and civil society groups to support the KPK and avoid attempts to change the law."

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