Jakarta. The attorney general has come under harsh criticism for suggesting that national antigraft body's authority to prosecute offenders be handed over to, or managed by, his office.
His remarks come amid already mounting concerns over the fate of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), which has been stepping up its work but facing backlash from apparently jittered lawmakers.
Critics say the suggestions, which Attorney General H.M. Prasetyo made during a House of Representives hearing on Monday (11/09), were yet another attempt to derail the KPK in its mission to rid the country of graft.
"The aspirations [...] are against the logical reasoning of antigraft that has been growing among the public," human rights activist Hendardi said in a statement on Tuesday.
"If this happens, members of the public are the ones who will suffer because the KPK [...] may be blunt."
The independent KPK, which has frequently been listed among the most trusted state institutions in public opinion polls, has so far managed to maintain a record conviction rate of 100 percent.
But Prasetyo, during Monday's hearing, claimed that the KPK's authority to prosecute makes the fight against corruption "ineffective," drawing comparison to neighboring Malaysia's and Singapore's anticorruption commissions.
"In Singapore and Malaysia, they are not competing against each other," he said.
"A law enforcement institution, which is given big authority, tends to be arbitrary and feel it should not be touched or blamed."
Prasetyo's remarks come amid an ongoing House inquiry into the KPK that was initiated by lawmakers nearly five months ago, which critics say was nothing more than an attempt to weaken the KPK and has drawn widespread public protest.
Activists have been calling for intervention from President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who has reiterated his administration's antigraft commitment and said he would reject any idea to weaken the KPK.
"Prasetyo was not only offside in conveying his opinion, but also undisciplined [...] Prasetyo should have obeyed the president," Hendardi said.
"Instead of [...] commenting on the KPK, the attorney general should focus on his duty."