"Inviting a Tiger into Your Home": Indonesia Creates an Anti-Corruption Commission with Teeth, 2002 – 2007

In 2002, under domestic and international pressure to confront corruption after the economic and political collapse of the 32-year Suharto regime, Indonesia established the Corruption Eradication Commission (the Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi, or KPK). The new commission had powers so strong that one anti-corruption activist said Indonesian politicians were “inviting a tiger into [their] home” by creating it. Still, the public reacted warily, mindful of past failures and distrustful of the commissioners approved by Parliament. After creating an effective operating structure, the commissioners spent more than a year building capacity by introducing innovative human resources policies, cutting-edge technologies, strong ethical codes and savvy investigative tactics. The commission then launched a series of investigations that netted dozens of high-level officials and politicians, with a 100% conviction rate. By the end of 2007, the KPK was standing on a stable foundation, buttressed by solid public support.
Gabriel Kuris drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Jakarta, Indonesia in February and March 2012. For a look at the commission’s second term, see the Innovations for Successful Societies companion case study “Holding the High Ground with Public Support: Indonesia’s Anti-Corruption Commission Digs In, 2007-2011.” Note that many Indonesians have only one name, while others prefer to be referenced by their first name rather than their surname. This study follows the naming conventions used by local media and individuals themselves. Case published September 2012.
commission mandates
legal reforms
conviction rate
internal investigations
codes of conduct
managing caseload
Focus Area(s)
Critical Tasks
Anti-corruption agencies
Building inter-agency cooperation
Establishing independence
Investigation or referral
Legal structure
Organization and staffing
Core Challenge
Institutional traps (spoilers)
Country of Reform
Case Studies
Gabriel Kuris