In-Depth Analysis: The Warning Letter to Novel Baswedan, Attempt to Weaken KPK from the Inside?
On 21 March 2017, the well-known KPK investigator, Novel Baswedan, was sent a second warning letter (SP2) by the leadership of the Commission. There was no clear reason for the warning letter. However, after the letter became publicly known, on 27 March 2017, the warning letter to Novel Baswedan was retracted. The KPK leadership, through Agus Rahardjo, simply stated that KPK investigators were expected to focus on the handling of important cases.
The internal dispute in the Commission began when the Director of Investigation of the Commission, Brigadier General Aris Budiman, send an official letter to the Head of Human Resources on 8 February 2017, to open recruitment for senior police investigators because there are five vacancies of Heads of Task Forces in the Commission. The official letter was immediately protested by Novel Baswedan, as the Chair of the Employees Association of the Commission, since opening the positions for police investigators will result in the closure of the functional career paths of internal investigators from the KPK. He also highlighted the performance of Aris, who was considered to not give adequate input in the investigation of major cases. Novel even considered Aris to lack integrity.
In late February 2017, a number of KPK investigators from the police reported Novel Baswedan, as their response to Novel’s protest letter addressed to the leadership of the Commission. In early March 2017, the Commission's internal watchdog called Novel and Aris, who were considered as the sources of the dispute. On 21 March 2017, four KPK leaders agreed that Novel Baswedan be given a warning letter for protesting Aris Budiman’s letter (Source: Tempo Magazine, 3-9 April 2017). Unfortunately, there was no mention about the KPK leadership who did not agree with the warning letter for Novel.
There were three reasons for Novel’s objections, first, asking a senior police officer as the Head of the Investigation Task Force at the Commission is not in accordance with the Commission’s recruitment procedure. Second, the Employees Association was worried about integrity of the officers recruited outside the regular procedure. Third, there were several Commission investigators who were considered to have the capacity and capability to become head of the investigation task force, and it was expected that the recruitment be done internally.
The issuance of the warning letter from the KPK leaders reflect the absence of the KPK leadership’s vision for strengthening the institution of the Commission, particularly that the Commission should be an independent institution. Moreover, what Novel was protesting about was in fact a fundamental issue for the Commission, namely how the Commission has independent investigators with integrity, and without overly relying on the police.
The KPK leaders seemed to have forgotten the importance of for having independent investigators for the Commission. The independence of the Commission is among others shown in the independence of employees, especially in the realm of action. Probably as efforts to undermine the KPK are not easy to be done from the outside, we are seeing in the drama of the warning letter an internal upheaval within the Commission, which can gradually make the Commission a toothless tiger. (Dewi/Adnan)