Indonesia’s parliament on Thursday voted to appoint a tough-talking lawyer to lead an anti-corruption commission, 18 months after the previous incumbent resigned over murder charges.
The top graft-fighting job in the country was given to Mohammad Busyro Muqoddas, 58, a lawyer and outgoing Judicial Commission chief, who described corruption as a “crime against humanity” during his confirmation hearings.
Anti-graft activists said he was a well-respected figure but questioned whether he would be tough enough to take on the powerful vested interests arrayed against him in one of the most corrupt countries in the world.
“His track record is relatively clean. Our only concern is that we have the impression he’s not firm enough,” Indonesia Corruption Watch activist Febri Diansyah said.
Muqoddas was appointed to lead the independent Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for a year instead of the usual four-year term because the previous chief resigned mid-term to face murder charges in May last year.
Antasari Azhar was sentenced to 18 years in jail for the murder of a businessperson over the affections of a 22-year-old woman, after a trial which his defenders called a thinly veiled effort to sabotage the KPK.
The commission has far-reaching powers to wire-tap and otherwise investigate top officials and lawmakers suspected of corruption, and is seen as the sharpest weapon in President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s anti-graft drive.
It has scored major successes but it has also faced strong opposition from police and lawmakers, dozens of whom are facing corruption charges.
Indonesia ranks 110th out of 178 countries on Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index.