Monday, November 18, 2013

Indonesia’s Graftbusters Battle the Establishment

Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chief Abraham Samad. (JG Photo)
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chief Abraham Samad. (JG Photo)

An inspector general of Indonesian police had just withstood eight hours of interrogation on the night of October 5, last year at the Jakarta headquarters of Indonesia’s anti-corruption agency when a commotion erupted outside.

Investigators from the Corruption Eradication Commission, known by its Indonesian initials KPK, had accused Djoko Susilo of amassing land, cars, mansions and stacks of cash. His arrest was an unprecedented strike against a police force with a long-held reputation for graft in a country routinely ranked as among the most corrupt in the world. The counter punch came swiftly. At about 9 p.m. that night, dozens of policemen descended upon the KPK headquarters with one demand: hand over Novel Baswedan, 36, the celebrated investigator who had led the interrogation of Djoko.

But the police didn’t reckon on a remarkable show of public support.

Hundreds of protesters, lawyers, activists and journalists soon arrived to barricade the entrance of the KPK building, summoned by text messages from an anonymous KPK official. After a three-hour standoff, the police squadron left. Nearly a year later, on Sept. 3, Djoko was sentenced to 10 years in prison and the state seized $10.4 million of his assets.

It was a narrow escape for Novel, himself a former policeman and now lionized as “supercop” by Indonesian media, and once again, also for the anti-corruption agency. Since its establishment in 2002, the KPK has become, contrary to all expectations, a fiercely independent, resilient, popular and successful institution that is a constant thorn in the side of Indonesia’s establishment.

Reuters spent six months examining the KPK and their campaign against corruption, gaining rare access to the agency and interviewing senior police officials, politicians, business leaders, members of Yudhoyono’s inner circle and the president himself.

The KPK has won guilty verdicts in all 236 cases it has fought. Its arrests of cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, central bankers, CEOs, a judge and even a former beauty queen have exposed how widespread and systemic corruption is in Indonesia. It has certainly made big-ticket abuses of power far riskier in Indonesia.

But its success is becoming more costly. Reuters also found an overwhelmed and underfunded agency that faces mounting opposition from parliament, police and the presidency. The KPK’s popularity has so far been its most effective buffer against such attacks, especially in the run-up to next year’s parliamentary and presidential elections. Any attempt to eviscerate the commission would almost certainly cost votes.

“The KPK’s only friend is the public,” says Dadang Trisasongko, secretary general of the Indonesian 
chapter of global corruption watchdog Transparency International.

The international business community is watching this tussle closely. Executives surveyed in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2011-12 said corruption remained “the most problematic factor for doing business” in Indonesia.

The World Bank has said corruption across the world costs $1 trillion. No one has done a thorough study of the costs in Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous country and one of the hottest emerging markets with an economic growth rate of 6 percent. The Anti-Corruption Studies Center at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta put the losses to the state at $1 billion over the past five years alone.

Corruption Eradication Agency (KPK) graft investigator Novel Baswedan poses in his office in Jakarta June 26, 2013. (Reuters Photo/Enny Nuraheni)
Corruption Eradication Agency (KPK) graft investigator Novel Baswedan poses in his office in Jakarta June 26, 2013. (Reuters Photo/Enny Nuraheni)

Gecko vs crocodile

The KPK has enemies because it is both powerful and effective. Over a third of the agency’s 385 arrests since its inception in 2002 have been of politicians. The KPK’s powers are considerable: it can slap travel bans on suspects, go on asset-seizing sprees to collect evidence and — the secret behind many high-profile KPK arrests — wiretap conversations without a warrant.

But the KPK started small after its creation in 2002. Early targets were mainly mid-level officials, regional leaders and businessmen. That began to change when Yudhoyono took office in 2004, vowing to deliver “shock therapy” to a graft-riddled system. The KPK moved quickly to prosecute several major graft cases, homing in on politicians.

In 2008, the agency ensnared the first member of Yudhoyono’s inner circle: Aulia Pohan, a former deputy central bank governor whose daughter is married to the president’s oldest son. Aulia was arrested with three other deputies after former central bank governor Burhanuddin Abdullah was convicted and jailed for five years for embezzling $10 million. Aulia was sentenced to four years in prison on charges in the alleged embezzlement scheme, which according to the prosecution, aimed to bribe lawmakers to influence legislation affecting Bank Indonesia.

By the time Yudhoyono ran for reelection in 2009, the agency had expanded from a staff of 100 to nearly 400, with thousands more applying for jobs.

Among them was Novel Baswedan, who joined the agency in 2007 after 10 years with the national police, where he had specialized in corruption cases. Novel, the grandson of noted Indonesian freedom fighter and one its first diplomats A. R. Novel, said he decided on a career in police work “in order to do good deeds.” In his first case at the KPK in 2008, Novel nabbed the mayor of the Sumatran city of Medan for misuse of the city budget. The mayor, Abdillah, was given a five-year prison sentence.

The agents were having a big impact and capturing the public imagination. For the first time in years, Indonesia fared better on Transparency International’s country rankings on corruption perception, leaping to 111th place from 133rd over five years. And that’s when the KPK was thrown on the defensive.

Many of its agents came from the national police, which is also empowered to investigate corruption cases but is itself riddled with corruption, Novel told Reuters in his first interview with the media. “There is a culture of corruption that is so entrenched that it happens everywhere in the police.”

In 2009, the KPK began investigating a top police detective, Susno Duadji, for allegedly accepting a bribe. Susno famously mocked the agency for taking on the police: “How can a gecko hope to defeat a crocodile?” The remark came back to haunt him. He is serving a three-and-half year jail sentence for corruption and abuse of power.

Five months later, police arrested two KPK commissioners for extortion and bribery. The charges were dropped after nationwide street protests and a Facebook campaign that gathered one million supporters. The KPK also released wiretap recordings of telephone conversations, which a court later determined showed police officials conspiring to undermine the KPK. The agency came under further pressure later that year when its chairman Antasari Azhar was arrested for masterminding the murder of a Jakarta businessman. Antasari, who pleaded innocent, is serving 18 years in prison. The Supreme Court denied his appeal.

Chandra Hamzah, one of the two commissioners arrested in 2009 and now a lawyer in Jakarta, said that period was a defining moment for the KPK. “If the police had been successful in pushing us out then, the KPK would have crumbled. They came very close to doing that.”

A student covers her mouth with tape during an Anti-Corruption Day rally in Jakarta in this December 9, 2009 file photo. (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)
A student covers her mouth with tape during an Anti-Corruption Day rally in Jakarta in this December 9, 2009 file photo. (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)

Accountable only to God

The KPK has continued to zero in on parliament and the police, the two most corrupt institutions in Indonesia, according to Transparency International. Over the past two years, the agency has also targeted senior politicians in Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party.

Former sports minister Andi Mallarangeng — once a rising star in Indonesian politics — and party chairman Anas Urbaningrum have been declared suspects in a graft case involving construction of a sports stadium in Hambalang, West Java. The KPK accused the two of taking kickbacks during the tendering process. Andi was arrested in October on charges of abuse of authority and causing state losses. Anas has not been charged in the ongoing investigation. They both deny any wrongdoing in the case, which the Supreme Audit Agency in September estimated caused state losses of around $41 million.

The party’s former treasurer, Muhammad Nazaruddin, was sentenced to seven years in jail in January for accepting bribes linked to the construction of an athletes village for the Southeast Asia Games in Sumatra. Angelina Sondakh, a lawmaker for Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party and a former Miss Indonesia, was sentenced in January to 4.5 years in prison for corruption and abuse of power in the same case.

Since then, KPK investigators have kept moving into Yudhoyono’s inner circle.

In August, the chairman of Indonesia’s energy regulator SKKMigas, Rudi Rubiandini was detained for questioning on suspicion of accepting a bribe after investigators said they caught him taking $400,000 in cash and a BMW motorcycle from an oil company official. The KPK said he has not been officially charged and the investigation continues. The Anti-Corruption Court in November began hearing the case against the oil company official.
Yudhoyono now seldom speaks out in favor of the agency he once championed. A week after the father of his daughter-in-law was convicted of embezzlement in June 2009, Yudhoyono echoed other politicians who claimed the KPK had grown too powerful: he described it as “accountable only to God.”

At his state of the nation address in August, delivered just three days after the KPK arrested the energy regulator, Yudhoyono gave corruption only a passing mention.

Presidential spokesman Julian Pasha told Reuters Yudhoyono’s support for the KPK has never wavered. “The way of his thinking on the KPK is still the same. His commitment to support the KPK actually never changed.”

In early October, the KPK went after what the government calls the “judicial mafia” – a nexus that links police, prosecutors, fixers and judges that purportedly puts a price on practically anything in the legal system. The agency shocked even Indonesians jaded by the country’s epic corruption scandals by arresting Akil Mochtar, the chief justice of the Constitutional Court and seizing almost $260,000 in cash. The KPK said the money came from bribes to rig a court ruling over a disputed local election. Akil has not yet been officially charged, a KPK spokesman said.

The widening investigation, which has led to the arrest of a half-dozen other figures but no other judges so far, is likely to become an issue in next year’s elections. The constitutional court was set up in 1999 after the long-ruling authoritarian president Suharto was toppled from power as part of reforms intended to free courts from political interference. Much of its work involves ruling on disputed local elections. The landmark decentralization measures of 2001 gave significant powers to local politicians making the stakes in local elections much higher.

Yudhoyono told Reuters earlier this year corruption has proven harder to eradicate than he had thought. “I am still not satisfied,” he said. “I am frustrated, I am angry, I am annoyed.” He denied, however, that it had risen in his nearly nine years in office. In Transparency International’s latest rankings, however, Indonesia has slipped back to 118th place, putting Southeast Asia’s biggest economy alongside Egypt, Ecuador and Madagascar.

A policeman guards as a protester shouts slogans outside the KPK building in Jakarta November 11, 2013. (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)
A policeman guards as a protester shouts slogans outside the KPK building in Jakarta November 11, 2013. (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)

Budget increase?
The KPK’s 75 investigators must sift through thousands of public complaints each year to select the roughly 70 or so cases it can realistically pursue. The agency’s mandate is to investigate cases of Rp 1 billion ($88,000) and above, so investigators choose the most high-profile corruption cases in the hope it will be enough to deter others.

Its high conviction rate might be the envy of its counterparts elsewhere in Asia, but it’s only a drop in the bucket in Indonesia, where graft is simply part of the fabric of everyday life — from backhanders to traffic policemen to “facilitation payments” to get anything done in the country’s bloated bureaucracy. The police and attorney general’s office handle most of the routine graft cases.

The agency is hoping for a giant increase in its budget for an ambitious expansion into provinces, where government funds and international investment has soared under decentralization. This, however, depends on approval by Indonesia’s politicians, who have been trying to curb the KPK’s reach, not expand it.

“As it stands now, the KPK is a law unto itself,” said lawmaker Desmond Mahesa, who has led calls in a parliamentary commission to better regulate the KPK and freeze its budget. “We have to tighten our grip and keep an eye on them,” he told Reuters.

Parliament has already tried to do this. In 2009, when the KPK was getting besieged by the police, Indonesia’s Minister for Communication and Information Tifatul Sembiring proposed amending the country’s anti-corruption legislation to limit the KPK’s wire-tapping powers. The plan was shelved amid a public backlash.

“If not for public pressure, we would have gone ahead,” says opposition lawmaker Eva Kusuma Sundari. Pro-KPK parliamentarians such as herself do exist, but are “in the minority,” she adds.

Some 700 employees are shoe-horned into the eight-story former bank building designed for half that number. Most of its windowless parking garage has been converted into office space. Outside, tucked between cargo containers used to store mountains of paperwork, are 12 holding cells for suspects considered a flight-risk. Current inmates include a former deputy central bank governor.

In 2008, the Ministry of Finance earmarked Rp 225 billion ($19.8 million) to build a new KPK headquarters with space for up to 1,300 staff. Parliament stalled on approving it. To shame their politicians, Indonesians launched a fundraising campaign called “Coins for the KPK,” led by a local NGO, Indonesia Corruption Watch. Civic groups and members of the public set up stalls across Jakarta and collected over $36,000. They even received bags of bricks and cement. Parliament finally approved the allocation in October 2012.

KPK Commissioner Adnan Pandu Praja told Reuters he wants the agency’s budget to be fixed at 0.5 percent of the national budget — similar to Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption on which the KPK is modeled — to avoid the annual tussles with lawmakers. Based on the 2013 national budget, that would mean nearly a 15-fold increase to Rp 8.6 trillion ($745 million) from its current Rp 600 billion budget.

Indonesian police general Djoko Susilo looks to his lawyer during the delivery of his verdict at a courtroom in Jakarta in this September 3, 2013 file photo. (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)
Indonesian police general Djoko Susilo looks to his lawyer during the delivery of his verdict at a courtroom in Jakarta in this September 3, 2013 file photo. (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)

‘Like husband and wife’
While politicians have been mostly in the KPK’s cross-hairs, its arrest last year of Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo was significant: he was the first senior police officer to be arrested while on active duty. The KPK accused him of embezzling $3 million in the purchase of driving simulators while he headed the National Police Traffic Corps.

His interrogation at KPK headquarters on Oct. 5 of last year came amid renewed tensions between the agency and the police, who had earlier ordered the recall of more than a dozen officers on loan to the agency — including Novel Baswedan, Djoko’s chief interrogator. Yudhoyono later ordered the National Police to withdraw the recall orders.

To ensure their future independence, Novel and other seconded police have since left the force to become full-time KPK staff. Novel says some former police colleagues regard him as a traitor.

He said was not surprised when police tried to arrest him at KPK headquarters while he was interrogating Djoko. “On that day, I was particularly anticipating a threat [The charges related to a 2004 assault case in which Novel had already been cleared of any wrongdoing]. Of course, I was worried for my life,” said Novel, the father of four girls ages 2-9. He and two other KPK agents said they have received death threats via SMS, but he declined to give further details.

The police downplay any rift. “We regard the KPK as one of our partners in law-enforcement,” said Agus Rianto, deputy spokesperson for the national police. “We are like husband and wife. Even spouses clash sometimes, don’t they?”

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: Pada kadar baru petrol RM2.10 seliter, bermula hari ini pengguna hanya mendapat 4.762 liter bagi setiap pengisian RM10.

Berbanding sebelum kenaikan iaitu pada kadar RM1.90 seliter, pengguna menikmati 5.263 liter petrol bagi pembelian kadar serupa.

Ini bermakna, dengan pengisian RM10 bermula hari ini, pengguna kehilangan 0.501 liter berbanding semalam.

Harga bagi 0.501 liter, jika pada kadar semalam adalah RM1.05.

Ini bermakna bermula hari ini, pengguna kehilangan nilai ringgit yang dibelanja sebanyak RM1.05 bagi setiap RM10 pengisian petrol mereka.

RM1.05, apabila didarab dengan 30 hari (sebulan), bersamaan RM31.05.

RM31.05 didarab pula dengan 12 bulan (setahun), pengguna akan kerugian RM378 setahun.

Itu jika mengandaikan pengguna mengisi petrol RM10 sehari. Jika pengguna mengisi lebih dari RM10, lebih banyak kerugian yang dialami.

Monday, September 02, 2013


Most of today’s newspapers front paged news about the nation’s biggest ever operation to flush out unwanted foreigners. Looking at the photographs, it would seem that the operation, code named Ops 6P Bersepadu where 135,000 personnel from the Immigration Department, Police, Armed Forces, RELA, Civil Defence, National Registration Department and local councils is only focussed on apprehending Indonesian and Bangladeshi illegal immigrants.

My question and maybe the rest of Malaysians would want to know, why Africans are not being apprehended. Don’t tell me the authorities do not know of the African colonies in Puchong, Nilai, Cyberjaya, Kepong, Subang and many other places. Folks, we can also do our part. Please assist the authorities by emailing or telephoning the authorities of the African hangouts, hideouts and colonies to enable the authorities to flush the illegal and unwanted Africans out. Consider this a national service.

By the way, here are some statistics about the Africans in Malaysia.

In 2012, 79,351 Africans entered the country and 25, 467 student visas were given. ( what happened to the rest ? Have they left the country or are they immigration offenders now ? What about the students ? Any checks done to find out if they are still enrolled as students or  they have gone AWOL?.

From Borneo post December 11, 2011
The then Deputy Home Minister Datuk Lee Chee Leong told the Dewan Negara that there are more than 25,000 Africans in Malaysia and 23,536 student visas were issued to Africans.

Bernama October 20, 2011
The then Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Khaled Nordin contradicts the Deputy Home Minister and said that there are 22,000 African students studying in Malaysia.

From Malay Mail, December 21, 2009
In 2008, 111, 805 Africans entered Malaysia both as tourist and students.

From Bernama December 06, 2009
Dewan Negara was informed that immigration statistics showed that 99,769 Africans entered Malaysia between January and October 2002.

From Malay Mail December 21, 2009
In 2001, 51, 383 Africans entered Malaysia

From Bernama February 03, 2002
An average of 300 Africans enter Malaysia monthly via Bukit Kayu Hitam according to Malaysian Immigration.

In January 2002, 372 Africans from countries such as Cameroon, Liberia, Mali, Angola entered the country via Bukit Kayu Hitam.

So, from the available statistics, there may be millions of Africans already in this country and the majority of them may have no business to be here in the first place. Remember the story in Utusan Malaysia December 18, 2012 which reported about an African who arrived in Malaysia with only his clothes on his back and then went on to build a RM400 million five star hotel back in Africa all from money earned by cheating people in Malaysia.

Folks! waves after waves of Africans maybe coming. Could the Home Office and the Immigration Department care to inform the Malaysian public as to why Africans from god forsaken countries can enter the country with ease. If the Immigration officers, do not let the Africans in, then the police need not go hunting for the Africans.

Anyway, let us all keep our politics aside, push human rights aside and help our enforcement personnel weed out the illegal immigrants. Just an advice to the enforcement personnel – PLEASE APPREHEND THE ILLEGAL AFRICANS

Friday, August 30, 2013


No one can better carry BN’s and the government’s cojones than Deputy Education Minister P.Kamalanathan. If Indians think that he being from MIC can be relied on by the Indian community particularly in times of need, well … just forget it.

Much has been written about the SK Seri Pristina incident where Non-Muslim students were made to eat in the school’s changing room/bathroom during the fasting month.

The  incident has since then morphed into many things with the latest being the Sungai Buluh police chief Junaidi Bujang denying that their police officers had questioned the school children of SK Seri Pristina and then a day after denying, admitting that the police merely interviewed the school children.

Instead of taking the bulls by the horns once and finding a resolvement and not  allow the “eating in the changing room” issue to fester on, out comes P.Kamalanathan who now claim that the Seri Pristina incident is a “small problem” compared to other schools which have done well in integrating its students. Then he reels out the statistics that out of 10,094 schools 90 to 95 per cent have done very well on national integration.

Really ? I am not sure what weed he is smoking when he talks about national schools and integration  because the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 makes startling revelation that the proportion of Chinese students enrolled in SJKC increased from 92% to 96% in 2011 and the shift for Indian students were even more dramatic, showing an increase from 47% to 56%. So, pray may I ask how has the national integration come about in the national schools.

Then again, articulating intelligently is a premium with P.Kamalanathan when one remembers that in an interview last year by the Sun and when questioned how was the MIC helping Indian youth, he replied “in my constituency we have identified 240 Indian youths and sent them to a college offering courses such as grass cutting, wiring…”

Until then,  the good people of Malaysia and the Indians in particular had never even known that there was a college offering grass cutting courses. Then again preparing Indian youths as grass cutters might rank as a great achievement from a (Deputy) Education Minister to whom Indians have entrusted their children’s future.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


This must be a first and may even be a start. Nevertheless, this may be start of things to come.

The majority of  Ridzuan Condominium residents voted in their Annual General Meeting held on July 6 against renting their units to foreigners from the African continent whom they allege to have caused a lot of nuisance. Ridzuan Condominium is a 14 year old Condominium at Bandar Sunway near Petaling Jaya which started as a high-end condominium which property analysts now see a downward trend for its value in recent years.

According to the memo signed by the Chairman of the Joint Management Body of Ridzuan Condominium states that the presence of Africans have among others :

1          created a lot of nuisance and problems to the community;
2          caused the property prices to go down;
3          made it difficult to rent out or sell their units to other prospective customers.

As such, it was resolved during the AGM that any resident who has an African tenant is to cancel the rental and to vacate them from their units within three months from the date of the AGM.

Although s.44(5) of the Strata Title Act 1985 states that no by-law can prohibit or restrict the lease of a building, giving the proprietor rights to individual unit owners, nevertheless s.44(2) of the Act states that the management corporation may by special resolution make additional by-laws for regulating the control, management, administration, use and enjoyment of the subdivided building.
The effect of this is that although the by-law can be challenged since the Strata Titles Act prevails over it, the ban against renting to Africans will remain until it is challenged in court.

I must congratulate the courageous act and decision of the residents of Ridzuan Condominium who have had it with the African menace. Hopefully, owners and residents of other condominiums and apartments will also take similar action as the residents of Ridzuan condominium. Just remember Ridzuan Condominium started as an upscale condominium and the presence of Africans there have brought down the value of the units.

Africans in Malaysia have grown from being a nuisance to becoming a menace and now to become a national security threat. Waves after waves of Africans are entering the country and it is strange that the Immigration authorities can be so easily hoodwinked by them. Isn’t it strange that Africans coming to Malaysia wanting to learn English language when their country’s curriculum is in English. Shouldn’t the Immigration authorities be circumspect with Africans wanting to come to study in “questionable” colleges and “questionable courses”.

I have written many times on the African menace and my articles was uploaded in esteemed blogs Outsyedthebox and even had a front page expose’ in the Malay Mail with the then Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, KohillanPillay commenting on my article. I also complimented how the almost 20,000 Korean community mostly nestled in an area in Ampang which has grown to be known as Little Korea are law abiding residents who hardly ever give any problems unlike the Africans and the Iranians,

The Malay Mail reported that Immigration Department records showed that a total of 79,352 Africans entered the country in 2012. The Immigration Department also issued 25,467 student visas to Africans in 2012 to study in public and private universities. I wonder how many African over-stayers and immigration offenders are still in Malaysia.

It is reported in today’s Star, that the starting this Sunday an estimated half a million illegal immigrants will be hunted down for the deportation. A multi-agency exercise involving 135,000 personnel involving the immigration department, police, armed forces, Rela, Civil Defence, National Registration Department and local councils. I wish all our brave men all the best and happy hunting. Let there be no let up against the Africans. Malaysians too can also play the part by informing the authorities of the Africans residing or hiding in their neighbourhood  or in their condominiums and apartments. Let us all help the country weed out the unwanted Africans.