Jokowi appoints controversial police general as new spy chief

Police General Budi Gunawan,  who was embroiled in allegations of corruption two years ago, has been appointed by President Joko Widodo as the country’s new National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief, raising concerns among reform organizations over the integrity of the nomination process.

Jokowi withdrew the appointment of Budi as National Police chief  in 2015 following widespread public opposition after the officer was named a corruption suspect by the Corruption Investigation Commission.

He later was appointed National Police deputy chief after he won a court case challenging his  suspect status.

Budi was also promoted to the rank of four-star general by presidential decree, creating another public fuss as traditionally there only the National Police Chief is entitled to the full general rank. Tito Karnavian, the head of the national police, took the promotion lightly, claiming that despite the fact that there are now two active police generals, he and Budi worked for different institutions.

The appointment and promotion are widely perceived as politically driven, as the controversial general served as longtime adjutant to Megawati, who is also Jokowi’s political patron. A former Indonesian president, she has chaired the PDI-P for 20 years.

“The promotion was probably granted as compensation because he failed to become National Police chief. If so, then it is more politically driven than a professional assessment” Bambang Widodo Umar, an expert in the police from University of Indonesia, was quoted as saying by local media,

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

Responding the KPK’s move, the National 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 defense lawyer. Bambang’s arrest outraged the public, including national figures who openly supported Joko Widodo during his presidential campaign.

The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has questioned Budi’s nomination as spy chief, saying Budi’s integrity is questionable as he was once a graft suspect.

The rights group further criticized Jokowi for the nomination, saying he had again decided to name a public official without considering their track record.

In the recent cabinet reshuffle, Jokowi appointed Wiranto, who has a questionable human rights track record, as coordinating political, legal, and security affairs minister, as well as giving the energy and mineral resources minister post to Arcandra Tahar, who shortly after his appointment was dismissed for allegedly holding dual citizenship.

Before being inaugurated, however, Budi passed a screening process by the House of Representatives Commission I overseeing security and foreign affairs. All 10 political party factions approved his sole candidacy for the position as National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief in a hearing on Sept. 7.


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