(The Jakarta Globe, 9 June 2010)-- High hopes were raised that the Riau Police would be better able to combat rampant illegal logging in the province after a top police official serving with the Corruption Eradication Commission was appointed as the province’s chief.
On Tuesday, the National Police rotated 103 personnel, including 23 high-ranking officers, saying they would assume their new posts within two weeks.
Among the officers shuffled was Brig. Gen. Suedi Husein, who was named head of the Riau Police after serving as director of investigations at the commission, also known as the KPK. He will replace Brig. Gen. Adjie Rustam Ramdja, who will assume a position as expert staff at National Police headquarters in Jakarta.
Mas Achmad Santosa, a member of the Judicial Mafia Eradication Task Force, said Suedi should be able to apply the same systems imposed at the much-respected antigraft body at his new post and bring about some much needed changes.
“I hope the spirit of corruption eradication will stay with him at his new position,” Mas Achmad told the Jakarta Globe.
He added that Suedi’s “ultimate test” would be in pursuing illegal logging cases and bringing big business and top officials involved in graft to justice.
The Riau Police have been under fire from environmental activists for failing to prosecute an illegal logging case allegedly involving 14 prominent companies. The case was first investigated in 2007 but halted a year later.
Green groups have even gone as far as to accuse police of protecting illegal loggers. In November, police arrested foreign journalists covering a Greenpeace protest of a logging site in Riau’s Kampar Peninsula.
“I hope illegal logging cases that have been halted will be given top priority,” task force secretary Denny Indrayana said. “Police need to re-examine why the cases were halted. If there is enough evidence to proceed to the next stage of the investigation, then the new chief must be courageous enough to revive these cases.”
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has personally asked the task force to focus on illegal logging because of the environmental damage caused and the significant loss of state revenue. He also told the task force to look into allegations of bribery in the logging permit process and failures in law enforcement.
KPK spokesman Johan Budi said Suedi’s departure would not hamper current corruption cases, adding that the KPK chief of law enforcement, Ade Rahardja, would take over Suedi’s role.
“Ade Rahardja will assume two roles. We will make sure that the current investigations will not be impacted,” he said.
KPK Deputy Chairman Muhammad Jasin said the National Police had forwarded two names as potential replacements.
“Maybe in the future there will be more names. But the KPK still have to trace their track records and assess their capacities,” he said. “Maybe in a couple of months we will have a new director [of investigations].”
But Danang Widoyoko, chairman of Indonesia Corruption Watch, said the position should be filled by a civilian. “By law, there is no restriction that a director of investigations must come from the police force,” he said. “By having a police officer on board, there is bound to be conflicts of interest when the KPK investigates a police official because the police have a strong esprit de corps.”