Prof David Price – 2022

Political Revenge: Downgrading Indonesia’s KPK from Hero to Villain

This presentation examines recent legislative actions and political machinations driving changes to the role and reputation of Indonesia’s Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (Corruption Eradication Commission; KPK). These actions and machinations have acted together to severely limit its capacity to fulfil its original objectives of addressing Indonesia’s reputation, both at home and abroad, for rampant corruption in government and society. The KPK was established by Law No. 30/2002, as a response to and recognition of rampant corruption throughout governmental, political, business communities and society generally during former president Suharto’s 32-year regime. The KPK’s functions encompass conducting investigations, indictments, and prosecutions. However, in September 2019, the People’s Representative Council passed a bill revising Law No. 30/2002 to weaken the KPK’s ability to operate independently. Primary changes include creating a government-appointed supervisory body over the KPK’s activities, and to change KPK employee status from independent agents to public servants. Both actions seriously weaken the KPK’s autonomy and turn it into a politically controlled auxiliary state agency, according to critics of the bill. In some respects, the KPK has become a victim of its own successes, having achieved convictions of some very senior politicians, law enforcement officers and government officials, including police inspector-general Djoko Susilo, Constitutional Court former chief justice Akil Mochtar, and former speaker of the People’s Representative Council, Setya Novanto. Hence, legislation limiting its authority should not be surprising. The presentation considers the prospect facing the KPK of not only becoming in essence a nonentity but also facing the loss of its current high standing within the Indonesian general population – thereby declining from hero status to minor villain status.

Prof David Price
Professor of International Law, Asia Pacific College of Business & Law
Charles Darwin University


David Price is Professor of International Law in the Asia Pacific College of Business and Law, Charles Darwin University, Australia.  He holds degrees in law as well as international relations, industrial history, and Chinese.  His current research work focusses on the intersection of intellectual property (IP) law, public international law, and international trade agreements. This research extends to the application of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) claims involving variously the Arabian Gulf states, Indonesia and Australia.  David Price has worked and researched in institutions in Australia, Indonesia, UK, Europe, China and the Sultanate of Oman.  He has published widely on IP protection in the Gulf and other developing regions, including Indonesia, and the geopolitics of bilateral and regional trade agreements on domestic policy. He is a member of LAWASIA, and a Board member of the International Indonesia Foundation, Australia’s Northern Territory Council of Law Reporting and the NT Law Journal.  He has held visiting professorships at universities in Indonesia and China.