Testing the Limits of Public Integrity: The Impact of Vested Interests and Countervailing Forces on Indonesia’s KPK


Ahmad Khoirul Umam* and Brian Head**



The establishment of Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is as a crucial instrument for fighting systemic corruption and improving public integrity. However, corrupt forces in post‐Soeharto Indonesia found opportunities to develop powerful coalitions built on the legacy of pre‐reform power relationships. This article examines the extent to which the KPK’s initiatives have been impeded by these vested interests. By examining two major cases involving conflicts against senior law enforcement officers – we identify some of the conditions where vested interests have exerted a significant influence in resisting anti‐corruption efforts. Their greatest impact occurred when their attempts to exploit KPK’s institutional weaknesses occurred in a permissive environment where political stakeholders were indecisive or unassertive. The fragmentation within civil society and independent media also seriously undermined on the capacity of anti‐graft supporters to hold corrupt official to account in Indonesia.



anti-corruption, democratization, Indonesia, KPK, market liberalization




First published: 09 September 2020


*Ahmad Khoirul Umam is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Political Science & International Relations, University of Paramadina, Jakarta. He achieved his PhD from School of Political Science & International Studies, The University of Queensland, Australia. He has strong interests in Public Integrity & Anti-Corruption Studies, Democratization in Southeast Asia, and Islam in International Politics. He is currently a Managing Director of Paramadina Public Policy Institute (PPPI), Jakarta.

**Brian Head is Professor at School of Political Science & International Studies, The University of Queensland, Australia. His major interests are evidence-based policy, program evaluation, early intervention and prevention in public policy and governance, environmental policy, public accountability and leadership. He is also (acting) Director of the Centre of Policy Futures, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, The University of Queensland, Australia.