Holding the High Ground with Public Support: Indonesia's Anti-Corruption Commission Digs In, 2007 – 2011

When they assumed office in December 2007, the second-term members of Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission faced high expectations. Established in 2002 in response to domestic and international pressure, the commission had broad responsibilities for combating corruption through investigation, prosecution, prevention and education. The first-term commissioners had built respect and credibility by taking on increasingly prominent cases and maintaining a perfect conviction record. During their first two years, the five second-term commissioners met the public’s high expectations with a string of high-profile arrests, including dozens of members of Parliament, high-level officials and a close relative of the president. They also ramped up preventive and educational measures to permanently reshape Indonesia’s corruption environment. After the 2009 elections, legislators worked to weaken the commission, and law enforcement leaders pressed criminal charges against the commissioners. Allies in media and civil society rallied the public around the agency, mostly frustrating the detractors. While some of the commissioners suffered personally, they left behind an institution with a strong public reputation. This case study documents the strategy the commissioners pursued to defend the agency against potential spoilers.

Gabriel Kuris drafted this study based on interviews conducted in Jakarta, Indonesia in February and March 2012. For a look at the establishment, structure and first-term leadership of the commission, see the Innovations for Successful Societies companion case study “‘Inviting a Tiger Into Your Home’: Indonesia Creates an Anti-Corruption Commission With Teeth, 2002-2007.” Note: many Indonesians have only one name, while others prefer to be referred to by their first names rather than their surnames. This study follows the naming conventions used by local media and individuals themselves. Case posted September 2012.

Associated Interview(s):  Erry Riyana Hardjapamekas

commission mandates
legal reforms
conviction rate
internal investigations
codes of conduct
managing caseload
Focus Area(s)
Reducing Divisive Effects of Competition
Critical Tasks
Anti-corruption agencies
Building inter-agency cooperation
Establishing independence
Investigation or referral
Organization and staffing
Core Challenge
Institutional traps (spoilers)
Country of Reform
Case Studies
Gabriel Kuris