Controversial general quietly sworn in as deputy police chief

While eyes were on the opening ceremony of the Asian African Commemoration Conference (AACC) on Wednesday, newly installed National Police chief General Badrodin Haiti inaugurated Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan as his deputy in an unusual closed-door ceremony at the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta.

General Badrodin said his tight schedule was one of the reasons why the inaugural was abruptly held in low-key and only attended by a handful of people.

“Not all (high-ranking officers) could attend so we did it modestly on the second floor,” he said as quoted by local media, explaining why only a handful of people attended the inaugural that was deemed too modest for such a high-profile post in the police force.

Budi Gunawan, formerly the police’s education and training chief, served as former president Megawati Soekarnoputri’s adjutant. Megawati, who chairs the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-Perjuangan) for 20 years, is widely known as Joko Widodo’s patron. Budi Gunawan is also close to Vice President Jusuf Kalla and chairmen of major political parties.

In January, Joko Widodo proposed Budi Gunawan as sole candidate for the chief of the national police to replace then Gen. Sutarman. However, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named him a graft suspect three days after.

The KPK suspected based Budi accepted bribe money from a businesswoman when he was chief of the police’s Career Development Bureau from 2004 to 2006.

The KPK’s move triggered another stand-off between the KPK and the national police. The police named the Commission’s leaders suspects in separate old cases in what many believed to be an attempt to intimidate the agency.

The police even arrested KPK deputy chief Bambang Widjojanto for alleged perjury when he was a defence lawyers.

Bambang’s arrest outraged the public, including national figures who openly supported Joko Widodo during his presidential campaign.

The decision to appoint Budi Gunawan was made formal Wednesday morning after an appointment letter was signed by General Badrodin Haiti and sent to State Secretary Ministry. However, State Secretary Pratikno said that there was no such letter from the National Police.

Pratikno also said the president was not aware about the inauguration because he was busy with the Asian African Commemoration Conference.

In any case, Jokowi said he had instructed the police to put their house in order.

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