I Won’t Be Pressured Over Indonesia Antigraft Case: SBY
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Wednesday that he would not bow to public pressure and order the National Police and Attorney General’s Office to halt the prosecution of two antigraft officials.
Before huddling with cabinet officials, including National Police Chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri and Attorney General Hendarman Supandji, to study his fact-finding team’s report — which offered a stern rebuke for law-enforcement agencies in the case — the president indicated that the public shouldn’t expect him to act unilaterally.
“The actions taken by the government and president must be based on the Constitution, the law, legal statutes and the system,” Yudhoyono told reporters prior to the cabinet meeting, which was attended by his top security, legal and economic
“I cannot let myself as president be pressured, forced to take steps that are not within my authority,” he said. “It would mean that I had broken the law. So, the steps must be taken swiftly, we cannot dawdle about this, but the direction must be clear.”
Yudhoyono’s comments were clearly not what supporters of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) wanted to hear, especially given the contents of a 31-page report presented to him on Tuesday. Yudhoyono had appointed the eight-member team on Nov. 2 to get to the bottom of the KPK investigation scandal.
While stopping short of accusing police and prosecutors of manufacturing criminal charges against Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra M Hamzah, the team concluded that the investigation against the suspended deputy chairmen had been “forced” and lacked evidence. The report also urged the president to conduct reforms in the National Police and AGO and punish any officials found to be involved in fabricating charges against the commissioners.
Yudhoyono has instructed Bambang and Hendarman to study the report and inform him by Saturday on how they wished to proceed. Both officials have previously said the report has no legal bearing and will not stop their determination to try Bibit and Chandra.
“Don’t rush into statements to reject or accept the entire recommendations. Let us analyze this in a cool-headed fashion and with a positive attitude,” Yudhoyono said. “There is no need to be prejudiced about what the team has accomplished.”
The KPK scandal broke following the airing of wiretapped telephone conversations among officials from the police, AGO and other figures that indicated a conspiracy to frame the KPK officials for bribery.
The scandal has overshadowed the early part of Yudhoyono’s second term, exposing widespread corruption in the country’s law-enforcement agencies and threatening to derail the president’s antigraft program, analysts say.
“He should listen to the recommendations,” said Topo Santoso, a criminal law expert at the University of Indonesia. “The case is weak and there is no sufficient evidence in it. So, there is no reason for the president not to ask the police to drop the case.”