The surprise appointment of lawyer Abraham Samad as the new chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has placed his past political activism under the spotlight.
A previous association with an Islamic hard-liner group has raised concerns over Abraham’s potential inclination to politicians holding similar ideologies.
Abraham, a Makassar-based rights activist, was an advocate and head of an investigation division with the Preparatory Committee for Islamic Sharia Enforcement (KPPSI), which is linked to Abu Bakar Ba’asyir and Laskar Jundullah, the latter a paramilitary unit affiliated to al-Qaeda.
“In terms of fighting corruption, he might protect certain political parties with similar ideologies to his own, including the Prosperous Justice Party [PKS],” Jamil Mubarok of the Indonesia Transparency Society (MTI) told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.
Abraham, 45, was previously praised for being a relatively clean candidate with no links to corruption and was known by Makassar people as adopting a stern stance in the fight against corruption.
Pledging to resign in the event that he failed to combat high-profile corruption in his first year in office, he garnered 55 votes from lawmakers to be elected as one of the new four leaders, in a voting session at the House of Representatives on Friday. He also singled out frontrunner Bambang Widjojanto and incumbent Busyro Muqoddas in championing the chairman election.
Abraham, mostly perceived an outsider in the race, might have appeared less threatening than KPK advisor Abdullah Hehamahua, who had stated that his life’s mission was “to die in the hands of corrupt officers”, or the former Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) chief Yunus Husein, who had claimed of having support from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Observers overlooked Abraham’s past record of defending members of the KPPSI who faced trial in 2002 for the bombing of a McDonald’s restaurant and a Toyota dealership, owned by then businessman Jusuf Kalla, former vice president, in Makassar, which claimed three lives and injured 11.
Abraham also advocated for Agus Dwikarna, a KPPSI front man, who was arrested at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila for possessing explosives. Agus was arrested along with two other Indonesians: Tamsil Linrung, now a PKS lawmaker, and Abdul Jamal Balfas, a businessman from Samarinda, East Kalimantan.
Tamsil, who is also a House of Representatives’ budget committee deputy chief, was under scrutiny in October when a suspect in a bribery case at the Manpower and Transportation Ministry accused him of involvement in the case.
Jamil, however, doubted that the affiliation with the PKS or any extreme-right politicians would appear in such a direct manner.
“I am more concerned that [Abraham] might use corruption cases as bargaining tools to fund hard-liner campaigns,” Jamil said.
Jamil said that MTI, which once helped the selection committee for the KPK leaders in tracking down the backgrounds and records of the candidates, had found Abraham’s connection with the hard-liner group.
Jamil said that the committee did not process their findings, saying that it was because the committee perceived his “hard-line” political activism was insignificant in terms of fighting corruption.
Emerson Yuntho from Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) said concerns over Abraham’s past would always surface until he proved his independence from political interests.
Syamsuddin Haris, a political observer from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said that Abraham might have been selected because he was less of a favorite and less known by the public.
“In the absence of political cliques in Jakarta, I’d say it will be easier for many political parties to influence him,” he said. Abraham did not reply to phone calls and messages until Saturday evening.
Erry Riyana Hardjapamekas, a member of the selection committee and former KPK leader, dismissed concerns that Abraham’s affiliation with the hard-liner group and his alleged extreme-right ideology might influence his decisions.
“The mechanism in the KPK does not give any room for any of its leaders to impose a one-sided decision,” he said.
Sumber: www.thejakartapost.com – Sun, 12/04/2011 9:25 AM