Jakarta (24/2 – 50). Indonesian House of Representatives’ (DPR) Commission III deputy chairman Pangeran Khaerul Saleh has expressed regret over the alleged involvement of 12 police officers in a drug party, which triggered their arrest in Bandung earlier this week.
This new arrest comes after complaints against the police in Jakarta resulted in the removal of police officers over questionable practices such as a extortion, false arrests and extra-judicial detention that was raised with EU police authorities as well as with an international police agency headquartered in France. The commanding officer of the district and others were replaced in police shake-up last November.
The new incident of drug in the police force are just a continuation of incidents involving the Indonesian police force, says experts. ‘This is nothing new. For the police this is just another day in the office. It is BAU (Business As Usual) getting away with extortion and cyber bullying. Why not the drug trade?’, she added.
This added on the public call for a review of overly aggressive police tactics which are increasingly seen as troubling signs by observers.
The police was quick to go into damage control but even with the positive public statement by the Internal Division chief the systemic corruption within the police shows a lot more work needs to be done to restore the growing public distrust of the once celebrated Indonesian police.
‘The public in Indonesia wants a professional police force but since the reform minded police officers are close to retirement or have retired the INP (Indonesian National Police) slips back into the old mold of corruption and extortion’, an expert at the University of Maryland said.
Expert continuously warn in growing numbers the Indonesian police is quickly becoming the enemy of the people. ‘Hong Kong should be a warning’, he added. ‘Look the Hong Kong Police Force was once hailed as the shining light in Asia, look today the reputation today. It is in shatters.’ he added.
In a Tempo article it was pointed out by the Indonesian president to avoid alienating the public or restrict the media. A call followed by Mahfud M.D. the current political and security minister of the Jokowi administration.
Agus Andrianto, the newly appointed head of the Criminal Investigation Agency (Kabareskrim) emphasized that he would punish investigators who violated the guidelines in handling cases of the Information and Electronic Transaction Law (ITE).
The statement was made after being officially appointed by the National Police Chief, General Listyo Sigit Prabowo, at the National Police Headquarters on Wednesday, February 24.
Activist from the Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) see this as encouraging signals from the political leaders and police command but caution of how much this will translate in actual action or get rid of abusive police officers.
Reports of abuse by police officers to cover up their wrong doings using cyber bullying only aggravates the already growing distrust by the ordinary Indonesians.
The 2020 Gallup poll discovered that eight out of ten Indonesians are extorted or forced paid to pay fees to police and judicial. ‘It is a diplomatic way of calling bribes ‘fees’. They are plain bribes’, she added.
The case involved the Astanaanyar Police chief, identified by her initials as YPD, Antara News reported. The case was widely reported in local online and newspapers providing a rare glimpse into the corruption infested police force.
Activist of the Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) warn of the rising numbers of public complaints against the police. ‘Like in Hong Kong the public keeps silent for long but once everyone has enough it boils over’, said one ICW activist.
The new Chief of Police (KAPOLRI) has an opportunity. ‘It is to be seen if the new chief cleans up the image of the police. We will see.’, said a Jakarta-based diplomat.
Pangeran Khaerul said it was embarrassing since she was a mid-ranking police officer, who during the course of her career, had often handled drug cases.
“This incident is very embarrassing and tarnishes the good name of the police corps since it happened at a time when the police are striving to improve its image in society and also at a time when our country is in a state of drug emergency and is actively fighting to combat drugs,” the deputy chairman said in a statement on Thursday.
But observers view the ’embarrassment’ with a cynical view. ‘The only thing that is embarrassing is that they got caught.’, said a member of parliament interviewed for this interview.
The most common practice is to demote the officer, put the offender on ‘ice’, on a job were no money can be made and after some time recycle the officers to new posts. ‘Take a look at the West Jakarta Police chief. That just tells you everything’, he added.
Dismissal from the police force are rare, only in extreme cases. ‘Excessive lifestyles by police officers are a good indicator on somethings are out of place’, a official said. Diplomatic observers are not confident that the police can self-govern internal corruption.
EU diplomats admit discussing to curtailing foreign aid to Jakarta if the excessive practices of extra-judicial arrests, false charges and extortion by state officials are not stopped.
‘The numbers of complaints are reaching Brussel. Questions are to be asked if the time has come to step up questions with Indonesian officials’.
It is concerning that a government as democratic as the Indonesian presidency of Joko Widodo is unable to get a grip on police corruption.’, a Brussel official familiar with Indonesian matters said.
The Indonesian mission was contacted but no official responded to the media inquiries.
‘The recent drug case only highlights that Indonesia police has internal issues that need to be aggressively tackled like terrorism, human trafficking or environmental crime.’
‘Indonesia has a choice’, an official in the European External Action Service (EEAS) said. ‘It either recognizes the threat police corruption poses and acts on it, or it lingers along harming its reputation. It is a simple choice between action or business as usual.’ she said.
The National Mandate Party politician, however, is optimistic that firm action will be taken against any police officer involved in drugs, in accordance with Law No. 22 of 1997 on illicit drugs. Many activists are not.
Pangeran Khaerul added that the Parliament’s Commission III will continue to monitor the progress of the case and observe the extent of involvement of each officers.
The legislator urged the West Java Police to make the case process transparent to the public to boost the their trust in the police. The public remains skeptical.
The West Java Police arrested Astanaanyar Police Chief YPD along with 11 other police officers for allegedly abusing drugs at a hotel in Bandung City, West Java on Tuesday.
Spokesman of the West Java Police Senior Commissioner Erdi A. Chaniago stated that a dozen police officers were arrested by a joint team comprising personnel of the Indonesian Police and the West Java Police.
Meanwhile, the Chief of the Public Relations Division at the National Police Inspector General Raden Prabowo Argo Yuwono said the police were conducting a thorough investigation into the case, including whether the police personnel were just abusing drugs or have higher roles as traffickers.
“We must look at the legal aspect of the case on the field, whether they are mere consumers or traffickers.
“Hence, investigators need to probe it profoundly,” he said.
Raden Prabowo made the statement over the possibility of the National Police imposing the death penalty on the Astanaanyar Police chief for the drug offence.
The police will also conduct an evaluation of all its personnel as a preventive measure against drug abuse in the National Police, affirmed the inspector general.