Watchdogs and a former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) commissioner have criticized the antigraft body’s recent move to procure cars for its high-ranking officials and supervisory board members, saying the plan is “against the commission’s values”.
The House of Representatives recently approved the KPK’s budget for 2021, which includes a plan to procure official cars for the agency’s commissioners and other high-ranking officials.
While the budget for the vehicles has yet to be determined, it was previously reported that the KPK had allocated Rp 1.45 billion (US$98,209) for a new car for chairman Firli Bahuri and Rp 1 billion each for cars other commissioners.
Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) activist Kurnia Ramadhana said the plan to purchase official cars showed the deterioration of the antigraft body’s integrity under Firli’s leadership. He called the procurement “unethical” because it was occurring during the COVID-19 health and economic crisis.
“As leaders of an anticorruption institution, they should understand and be sensitive to our current situation caused by the outbreak, which has devastated the economy,” Kurnia said in a statement on Friday.
He added that the plan was part of a long list of “hedonistic” practices by current KPK leaders, following a recent brouhaha surrounding Firli’s use of a private helicopter service for a personal trip in June.
The KPK supervisory council found Firli guilty of violating the comission’s code of ethics in September for the taking the helicopter trip – the first time a KPK chair has faced such a sanction.
Former KPK commissioner Bambang Widjojanto also criticized the procurement, saying it was in contrast to the commission’s public image as an efficient and effective institution that upheld sensible values.
“[Expensive cars] are inefficient and ineffective because they don’t directly improve the quality of the country’s graft eradication campaign,” said Bambang, who served as KPK commissioner from 2011 to 2015.
KPK supervisory council chair Tumpak Hatorangan Panggabean said the council would reject the official cars. He claimed the council members were not involved in the decision to purchase the cars.
“We never suggested the procurement of official cars for us. We don’t know where the proposal came from,” Tumpak said on Thursday, as quoted by kompas.com.
During a press briefing on Friday, KPK secretary-general Cahya Harefa defended the plan, saying official cars were necessary to support the KPK’s high-ranking officials in carrying out their duties.
However, he said the commission would reevaluate the plan in response to public criticism by discussing its 2021 budget with the National Development Agency (Bappenas) and the Finance Ministry. Cahya said spending for the cars would follow the government’s standard.
“Currently, all high-ranking officials are given transportation benefits that are included in their monthly paycheck,” said Cahya. “If the plan for official cars is approved for next year, they won’t receive the transportation benefits anymore.”