WHO reform needed but Japan has no plan to cut funding: Abe

first_imgHis stance is a stark contrast with Trump, who said earlier this week that the United States will halt its funding to the WHO due to its perceived failures and mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic.Following the US move, WHO Director General Tedros Ghebreyesus on Wednesday expressed regret over Trump’s decision and stressed the importance of international cooperation in fighting against the global health crisis.Topics : Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that the World Health Organization, which faces criticism over its response to the coronavirus pandemic, is in need of reform but stressed that Japan has no plan to stop funding the UN agency.”There are views that it is politically not neutral,” Abe told a press conference, in an apparent reference to criticism including from US President Donald Trump that the WHO has taken stances favorable to China, where the new coronavirus was first reported late last year.While noting that the WHO has problems and challenges, however, the prime minister said, “I am not considering slashing Japan’s funding (to the agency) at all.”last_img read more

Chinese help for virus gets wary reception in France

first_imgAn operation by France’s Chinese community to help the diaspora during the coronavirus outbreak by distributing masks, disinfectant and gloves has prompted questions and legal problems for some of its backers.Sceptical of the French government’s response to the epidemic, the Chinese embassy, business leaders and ex-pat associations have handed out so-called “COVID kits”, masks and other protective equipment to their compatriots.But this landed some in trouble with the law.  FFP2 masks were included in some of the kits, along with protective gloves, disinfectant wipes and Chinese traditional medicine.The Chinese embassy in Paris insisted in a statement that there was nothing illegal. It was doing “its best… to defend the rights and legitimate interests of Chinese compatriots in France.”‘Chinese health diplomacy’ The health crisis has strained ties between Paris and Beijing.France this week summoned the Chinese ambassador to protest a string of controversial comments by Beijing’s embassy in Paris on France’s handling of the coronavirus.And French President Emmanuel Macron told the Financial Times that things “happened that we don’t know about” in the response to the virus by China, where the pandemic originated.The “COVID kit” initiative came in response to a letter dated March 31, in the form of an urgent appeal signed by about 20 bodies representing France-based Chinese people, whom they judged to be “in danger”.Faced with “the inability (of the French authorities) to take appropriate protective measures”, said the authors of the letter, penned in Mandarin, they were launching an appeal for “certain protective products and medical materials”.Two days after it was sent out, the Chinese embassy in Paris launched a distribution programme of “COVID kits”, using students who organise deliveries with the help of popular Chinese messaging app WeChat.There are 125,000 Chinese nationals living in France on residency permits, a small proportion of all foreigners residing in the country.If ex-pats granted French nationality are included, the number could be as high as 700,000, according to local groups.Many are keen to go home to China, which they believe is in control of the epidemic five months after the coronavirus outbreak started there last December.But “Beijing wants to avoid the returns for fear of having imported cases,” said Simeng Wang, a researcher at France’s CNRS institute.”So the government decided to help the Chinese abroad, to calm the situation. This can be called Chinese health diplomacy,” she said.’Non-official channels’ Besides official aid, there has been massive private mobilisation, including the supply of millions of masks via “non-official channels,” said Tamara Lui, president of the Chinese Association of France.She said the community felt itself “marginalised”, partly because they insisted on wearing face masks even as the French government refuted their efficacy as a means of virus control for the general public.”Teleconsultations with doctors based in China has exploded,” she added.Chinese national Jimmy Gov’s father, was among those arrested on April 5.”We wanted to help the nationals who do not speak (French) well. The community is shocked. We were there to help and we received a slap on the wrist,” said Gov, whose father is to appear in court in September.The community stresses it is extending a helping hand beyond its own, tight-knit group.In the 13th district of Paris, where many Chinese ex-pats live, associations and business leaders are “using their networks to distribute masks to health personnel,” said Laetitia Chhiv, president of the Association of Chinese Youth in France.Just Thursday, 250,000 masks were delivered to the municipal council in the district for redistribution.”The entire community is mobilised on this issue,” said Adeline Dai, who handles logistics for several Chinese associations.Topics : Among the masks given out were the highly sought-after FFP2 type, which in times of critical supply shortages have been reserved for medical personnel on the frontlines of France’s coronavirus battle.Early in the outbreak, France had requisitioned all face mask stocks and production for distribution to doctors, nurses and caregivers.Yet on April 5, police in Paris detained two representatives of Chinese associations for possession of some 15,000 masks. Two days later, three students were arrested while handing out Chinese embassy-sponsored “COVID kits” in the Paris suburbs, an operation which caused people to amass in contravention of France’s strict social distancing regulations to stem the virus spread.last_img read more

BNI Syariah sees profit soar in Q1, chances to expand international banking services

first_imgBNI Syariah reported that its third-party funds (DPK) grew 16.58 percent to Rp 44.86 trillion, with current accounts and savings accounts (CASA) dominating the DPK and making up 64.96 percent of the total. Recently, BNI Syariah managed to enter the BUKU III category, which is a cluster of banks with core capital of between Rp 5 trillion and Rp 30 trillion. The bank’s core capital reached Rp 5 trillion as of March following an injection of capital in the form of asset handover worth around Rp 255 billion by the bank’s parent company, director of compliance Tribuana Tunggadewi said.“As BNI Syariah becomes a BUKU III bank, it has the opportunity to optimize its international businesses,” Firman said, adding that the effort meant potential fee-based incomes of up to Rp 70 billion from trade finance and around Rp 20 billion to Rp 30 billion from remittance.The company has offered several international banking services, such as international trade finance, remittance, letters of credit and export and import financing.Read also: BNI pursues Rp 4 trillion acquisition planBNI Syariah could benefit from its parent company’s presence in six major cities across the globe, namely Singapore, Tokyo in Japan, Seoul in South Korea, Hong Kong, New York in the United States and London in United Kingdom, as the cities had a sizable Indonesian population and businesspeople with Indonesia-related businesses, Firman said.As part of an effort to optimize the new business opportunities, the bank worked to increase its digital capacity and target the millennial market to tap into a bigger customer potential. BNI Syariah finance and operations director Wahyu Avianto mentioned in the press briefing that during the pandemic, the bank was “reaping the rewards” of its digital programs that were initiated two years ago. Among the bank’s innovations was the online account opening service, which saw a 136.86 percent increase between December 2019 and March 2020 to almost 25,000 accounts.Read also: Banking shares under pressure as investors avoid risk amid gloomy outlookThe bank has also been developing its sharia e-money called HasanahKu, which it claims to be the first of its kind, to support the growth of the halal ecosystem in the country.Wahyu noted that the digital initiatives had led to an increase in third-party funds, and hence, its fee-based income. “We hope in the future, they can help boost the growth of BNI Syariah’s profitability,” Wahyu said.Topics : BNI Syariah, the sharia subsidiary of state-owned Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI), reported a jump in its net profit during this year’s first quarter as it eyed opportunities to expand international banking services by banking on its parent company’s overseas branches.BNI Syariah net profit soared 58.1 percent year-on-year (yoy) to Rp 214 billion (US$14.46 million) in the first quarter of the year as the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic had yet to hit the bank’s bottom-line as of March, president director Abdullah Firman Wibowo said. “However, we have anticipated its impacts in the next quarter, both on the business front as well as on the assets quality side. We hope these impacts can be minimized so that we can still make a profit,” he added during a livestreamed press briefing on Thursday.  The coronavirus outbreak is expected to hit the banking industry as it disrupts business activities and forces millions of people out of job, battering loan demand and jeopardizing credit repayments.Read also: State-owned banks restructure $1.84b in loans to soften COVID-19 impactsBNI Syariah recorded a 9.8 percent growth in financing disbursement to a total of Rp 32.32 trillion while its non-performing financing (NPF) rose to 3.8 percent from 2.9 percent during the same period last year. Between December 2019 and March 2020 alone, NPF climbed by 47 basis points. “We will try our best to manage the [NPF] to remain at a level below 4 percent, hopefully even below 3.5 percent,” Firman said. last_img read more

Protests over death of George Floyd turn violent again despite curfews, National Guard

first_imgFloyd, 46, died on Monday after video showed a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes. It touched off outrage that has swept across a politically and racially divided nation in the midst of a polarizing presidential campaign and recently released from strict stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic that threw millions out of work.Minority communities were hit especially hard by the pandemic and those clamp-downs.On Sunday afternoon, a tanker truck drove into a throng of demonstrators on I-35 in Minneapolis, which had been closed to traffic. The driver was pulled from the cab and beaten by protesters before being taken into custody by Minneapolis police. It did not appear any protesters were hit by the truck.Authorities imposed curfews on dozens of cities across America, the most since 1968 in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, which also happened during a presidential election campaign and amid the upheaval of anti-war demonstrations. Read also: George Floyd: ‘Gentle giant’ killed in US police custodyLooting in CaliforniaIn Santa Monica, upscale stores were looted along the city’s popular Third Street Promenade before police moved in to make arrests. The vandalism followed a largely peaceful march earlier in the beachside city. Further south, in the Los Angeles suburb of Long Beach, a group of young men and women smashed windows of a shopping mall and looted stores before they were dispersed ahead of a 6 p.m. curfew.In Washington, D.C., protesters set fires near the White House, the smoke mixing with billowing clouds of tear gas as police sought to clear them from the area.Sporadic violence broke out in Boston following peaceful protests as activists threw bottles at police officers and lit a cruiser on fire. Philadelphia announced a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew after a day of protests and looting.Several hundred demonstrators marched through downtown Miami chanting: “No justice, no peace,” past a detention center where inmates could be seen in the narrow windows waving shirts.The demonstrations brought out a diversity of people, a point one young black woman noted at a march in Culver City, California on Sunday. “It means a lot to see people other than black people joining the demonstration,” said Candace Collins.Protests spread around the globe, with events in London and Berlin on Sunday and others on Monday including in New Zealand, Australia and the Netherlands.The eruptions of violence have not let up despite the arrest on Friday of former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, 44. He has since been charged with third-degree murder. Three other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest have yet to be charged.In New York City, police arrested about 350 people and 30 officers suffered minor injuries during clashes. Mayor Bill de Blasio said police conduct was being investigated, including widely shared videos showing a police vehicle lurching into a crowd of protesters who were pelting it with debris in Brooklyn.De Blasio said he had not seen a separate video showing an officer pulling down the mask of a black protester to spray something in his face.Among those arrested for unlawful assembly on Saturday night was de Blasio’s 25-year-old daughter, Chiara, according to a New York Police Department source, who said she was issued a “desk appearance ticket” and released.Protests have also flared in Chicago, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Cleveland and Dallas, where rioters were seen on video beating a store owner who chased them with a large machete or sword. Police said on Sunday he was in stable condition.Thousands of people gathered peacefully on Sunday afternoon for a rally in St. Paul as state troopers surrounded the state capitol building. About 170 stores in the city have been looted, its mayor told CNN.While covering the protests in Minneapolis on Saturday night, two members of a Reuters TV crew were hit by rubber bullets and a Reuters photographer’s camera was smashed as attacks against journalists covering the unrest intensified.In response to the protests, Target Corp announced it was temporarily closing 100 stores, about 30 of them in Minnesota.The administration of President Donald Trump, who has called protesters “thugs,” will not federalize and take control of the National Guard for now, national security adviser Robert O’Brien said on Sunday.Trump said on Sunday the U.S. government would designate anti-fascist group Antifa as a terrorist organization. It was not clear how many of the protesters participating in demonstrations are from Antifa.”Get tough Democrat Mayors and Governors,” Trump said on Twitter on Sunday afternoon. “These people are ANARCHISTS. Call in our National Guard NOW.”National Guard soldiers were deployed in Atlanta, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, as well as Santa Monica.Topics : Looting broke out on Sunday in Southern California, a tanker truck drove into marchers in Minneapolis and demonstrators clashed with police in Boston and Washington, D.C. as the United States struggled to contain chaotic protests over race and policing.National Guard troops were deployed in 15 US states and Washington, D.C. as darkness fell in major cities still reeling from five nights of violence and destruction that began with peaceful protests over the death of a black man, George Floyd, in police custody.”I hate to see my city like this but at the end we need justice,” said 18-year-old Jahvon Craven as he stood on an overpass watching protesters below on Interstate 35 in downtown Minneapolis moments before an 8 p.m. curfew went into effect in that city.last_img read more

North Korea says US in no position to criticize China

first_imgTopics : Pompeo’s remarks on Hong Kong, Taiwan, human rights and trade disputes were “nonsense” that slandered the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the WPK spokesman said.”Pompeo, who has been deeply engrossed in espionage and plot-breeding against other countries, has become too ignorant to discern where the sun rises and where it sets,” the spokesman said.Such statements by American leaders are a sign of their concerns about a declining United States, he said, citing the ongoing protests against police brutality.”Demonstrators enraged by the extreme racists throng even to the White House,” the spokesman said. “This is the reality in the US today. American liberalism and democracy put the cap of leftist on the demonstrators and threaten to unleash even dogs for suppression.”South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said it was the first time the WPK international affairs department had issued a statement of its own since North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took power in 2011.  North Korea on Thursday said the United States is in no position to criticise China over Hong Kong or human rights when Washington threatens to “unleash dogs” to suppress anti-racism protests at home.In an article carried by one of North Korea’s main state-run newspapers, an unnamed spokesman for the international affairs department of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) criticized recent comments by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.Speaking to Fox News on Sunday, Pompeo said recent actions by the Chinese Communist Party suggest it is “intent upon the destruction of Western ideas, Western democracies, Western values” and “puts Americans at risk.”last_img read more

Cash is king: Indonesians withhold spending, augment emergency funds

first_img“We try to be as budget-wise as possible to continue paying our mortgage, and we’re also delaying applying for a loan restructuring policy from the bank,” said Norma, whose family is based in Jakarta. “The last time I topped up GoPay and OVO before Eid was in March, which means I almost never took a ride or ordered food from online applications during quarantine.” Norma added that she would continue to spend smart, at least until there was a significant decline in cases or a vaccine became available.Consumer spending, which accounts for nearly 60 percent of Indonesia’s GDP, is expected to contract this year to the lowest level in decades, economists predict. Consumer confidence nosedived to at least a 12 year low, according to Bank Indonesia’s (BI) consumer confidence index (IKK) survey in April.Center of Reform on Economics (CORE) director Mohammad Faisal predicted that consumer spending would contract in the second quarter. Consumer spending growth slowed down markedly in the first quarter to 2.84 percent year-on-year (yoy), a far cry from the 5.01 percent growth over the same period last year. People are becoming increasingly cautious about spending as they prepare for the possibility that the pandemic will have a long-term impact on their finances. Many have opted to allocate more money for emergency funds.English teacher Norma Solikhah, 28, and her husband are one example. They decided to cancel their planned purchase of new furniture and have delayed plans for vacations to have more cash for emergency needs. They have cooked meals at home every day since the work-from-home policy began in March, and they have bought essential items online at lower prices.Read also: Investors turn to government bonds amid market uncertainty Read also: Ultra-rich to place more funds in banks amid liquidity crunch: EconomistsConsumer spending in the lower-middle-income segment of society is greatly depressed at present because millions of people have lost their jobs, Faisal said. Meanwhile, the middle to upper income segments have tended to delay nonessential purchases and investment because of the uncertain and volatile economic conditions, he added.Approximately 115 million Indonesians, or 45 percent of the country’s population, have yet to achieve economic security and the lifestyle of the middle class, according to a World Bank report titled Aspiring Indonesia – Expanding the Middle Class.“There is high uncertainty at this moment, and it makes people think they need to be careful in spending money. Instead of [spending] on investment and holidays, many people are saving more money for survival,” said Faisal.The latest consumer confidence survey by Nielsen Research also indicated that in the first quarter of 2020 Indonesian consumers had significantly reduced their spending on holidays from 42 percent in the previous quarter to 36 percent. Consumers also reduced investment in stocks and mutual funds to 34 percent, down from 46 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019.Ester Christine Natalia, 26, who lives in Tangerang with her husband, has decided to reallocate the funds the family usually used for investment in mutual funds for a cash emergency fund.“Because it is more liquid and safe,” said Ester. “In a crisis like this, cash will always be king.”Private sector employee Rizki Amalia, 26, has also opted to hold more cash in an emergency fund for her parents instead of spending it.  Read also: Retail investors growing as brokerages intensify online access“Initially, I made a savings account for a holiday plan in 2021, but then I shifted the savings account to an emergency fund for my parents. In this situation, we will never know what the future will hold, so the increased emergency fund is the best decision,” said Rizki, who lives in Jakarta.  Nielsen Research also found that 23 percent of respondents were concerned about health, up significantly from 14 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.“When the survey was conducted, COVID-19 had not affected Indonesian consumers’ optimism. Even though it was not yet announced as a pandemic by the WHO, it had already affected consumers’ concerns about health,” said Nielsen Connect Indonesia managing director Indrasend Patmawidjaja.Topics :last_img read more

Trump plans order to support police ‘best practices’

first_imgUS President Donald Trump will seek to address national anger over police brutality Tuesday with a new order that aims to encourage local law enforcement to improve standards, White House officials said.Three days after an Atlanta police officer’s shooting of a man found asleep in his car at a fast food outlet sparked fresh protests, two senior White House aides told reporters Monday that Trump wants to tie existing federal grants for police departments to modernizing their hiring practices and their use-of-force rules.”The goal of this is to bring police closer together with their communities. We’re not looking to defund the police. We’re looking to invest more and incentivize best practices,” said one official. Topics : While details were thin, the planned executive order appears to fall far short the reforms Democrats have proposed in Congress, including removing some of the legal immunity that police enjoy, banning potentially lethal chokeholds, and creating a national database of police misconduct.center_img “A lot of the police departments that have had problems are not using the most modern standards,” the official said, referring to Minneapolis, where the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man detained on a minor offense, triggered nationwide protests.The official said police departments should hire more officers locally and need a database to help them screen out officers with bad histories elsewhere.And communities need more “co-responders” better trained than police to deal with mental health, addiction and homeless issues, the official said. Trump is inviting police and the families of victims of police violence to the White House Tuesday to “have the discussion that the country needs to have so that we can turn the anger in the country right now in to action, and hopefully bring some unification and some healing,” the official said.  last_img read more

US Open to go ahead without fans, says New York Governor Cuomo

first_imgTopics : The Australian Open is the only Grand Slam event to have been played so far this year. The French Open has been moved to September and is due to start one week after the scheduled US Open men’s final, while Wimbledon has been cancelled.”We recognize the tremendous responsibility of hosting one of the first global sporting events in these challenging times, and we will do so in the safest manner possible, mitigating all potential risks,” USTA Chief Executive Mike Dowse said in a statement.The USTA will give more details on the arrangements for the tournament on Wednesday along with the official announcement.While a number of top players had expressed concerns about attending the Grand Slam due to the novel coronavirus, the USTA had said it hoped to go ahead with the event so long as it got approval from the state. World number ones Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Australian Ash Barty along with reigning US Open men’s champion Rafa Nadal are among the top players who have expressed concerns about attending the New York tournament.Australian Nick Kyrgios on Monday blasted the USTA for being “selfish” by pressing ahead with the US Open on its original dates from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13.Spaniard Nadal said earlier this month he would not travel to the US Open in present circumstances, while Djokovic said playing the event this year would be impossible given “extreme” protocols that would be in place.The US Open is held annually in New York City, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. The USTA’s Billie Jean King National Tennis Center was even turned into a temporary hospital to help in the battle against the virus.Last year’s US Open drew an all-time attendance record of nearly 740,000 fans and the event is the engine that drives the governing USTA.The decision by Cuomo comes one week after the USTA said it will eliminate 110 jobs and close its White Plains, New York office to help combat the negative far-reaching financial effects of the pandemic.center_img New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday gave the green light for the US Open to be held from Aug. 31-Sept. 13 without fans as part of the state’s reopening from shutdowns related to the COVID-19 outbreak.Cuomo said on Twitter the United States Tennis Association (USTA) will take “extraordinary precautions” to protect players at its marquee event including robust testing, additional cleaning, extra locker room space and dedicated accommodation.No professional tennis tournaments have been held since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left the sport’s calendar in tatters, and the shutdown will extend until August.last_img read more

WHO urges dexamethasone boom for worst virus cases

first_imgPriority countries “Although the data are still preliminary, the recent finding that the steroid dexamethasone has life-saving potential for critically ill COVID-19 patients gave us a much-needed reason to celebrate,” Tedros told a virtual news conference in Geneva.”The next challenge is to increase production and rapidly and equitably distribute dexamethasone worldwide, focusing on where it is needed most.” Dexamethasone has been on the market for over 60 years and usually serves to reduce inflammation.The WHO emphasizes that dexamethasone should only be used for patients with severe or critical disease under close clinical supervision.”There is no evidence that the drug works for patients with mild disease or as a preventative measure, and it could cause harm,” Tedros warned.The UN health agency boss insisted that countries with large numbers of critically ill coronavirus patients needed to be prioritized.But Tedros warned that suppliers had to guarantee quality “as there is a high risk of substandard or falsified products entering the market”. Mink link Scientists believe the virus originally jumped from animals to humans, with the focus on a market that sells exotic animals for meat in the Chinese city of Wuhan.Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead on COVID-19, said studies in northern Europe seemed to show that humans had been infected by mink.Dutch authorities reported two possible cases in May where humans were believed to have caught the virus from the animals, which are farmed for their fur.”There are some minks that have been found positive in the Netherlands and in Denmark,” said Van Kerkhove.”What we understand from these investigations, which are currently ongoing, is that there were… people who infected the mink — and in turn, some of these minks infected some people.”It is very limited in terms of the transmission that is happening.” Topics : ‘Grim record’ The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide has topped nine million and killed more than 468,500 people since the outbreak began in China last December, according to an AFP tally using official sources.”Almost every day we reach a new and grim record,” said Tedros, noting that more than 183,000 new cases were reported to the WHO on Sunday — easily the most in a single day so far.Some countries were witnessing a rapid increase in cases and deaths, he said, while others that had successfully suppressed transmission were now seeing an upswing in cases as they reopened their societies and economies.After the initial outbreak in China, the epicenter of the virus has moved from East Asia to Europe and now to the Americas.But its presence in Europe seems to go back much earlier than previously thought, with a study showing that fragments of the new coronavirus was in the wastewater in Milan and Turin back in December.”Clearly there is a chance that this virus was circulating in northern Italy obviously before anyone had realized that it had been,” said WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan.But he added: “I don’t think that, at this point, it changes the hypothesis of disease origin.” The World Health Organization called on Monday for a rapid increase in production of dexamethasone, a cheap steroid which has been shown to reduce deaths in critically ill coronavirus patients.WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said demand had already surged after a British trial of the drug was publicized but he was confident production could be ramped up.Some 2,000 patients were given the drug by researchers led by a team from Oxford University, and it reduced deaths by 35 percent among the most sickly, according to findings published last week.last_img read more

Watchdogs’ grim report says KPK has ‘lost public trust’ in six months under Firli

first_imgTwo of the country’s top corruption watchdogs have given the new leadership of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) a red mark for performance in the first half of 2020, citing poor enforcement against special crimes and the many controversies embroiling the commission.June marks the antigraft body’s sixth month under the leadership of chairman Comr. Gen. Firli Bahuri since the police general was installed in December 2019 by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.“The KPK is entering its bleakest days,” the Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) and Transparency International Indonesia (TII) wrote in their joint report on the KPK’s performance under Firli, published Thursday. The ICW and TII found that the KPK had significantly declined in its efforts to enforce the Corruption Law under Firli’s chairmanship, recording only two operations between January and June to arrest graft suspects. In comparison, the KPK launched five operations in the same period last year.Both operations were launched in January, which netted Saiful Ilah, the regent of Sidoarjo in East Java and General Elections Commission (KPU) commissioner Wahyu Setiawan in two separate cases.The watchdogs also highlighted that the antigraft body had yet to arrest several suspects on its most-wanted list. Among them are Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Harun Masiku, who is suspected of bribing Wahyu and  Samin Tan, the owner of coal miner Borneo Lumbung Energi who is wanted for allegedly bribing several House of Representatives members in the Riau-1 coal-fired steam power plant (PLTU Riau 1) case. The ICW and TII also noted that the KPK had not progressed in its investigations of at least 16 high-profile cases that incurred trillions in state losses, including the 1998 Bank Indonesia Liquidity Support (BLBI) bailout case and the 2001 electronic identity (e-ID) card procurement case.The watchdogs’ report also highlights several blunders the KPK in its investigations, including its first operation of the year in late May that involved the arrest of a state official at Jakarta National University (UNJ) for attempted bribery of several officials at the Education and Culture Ministry.The KPK was criticized at the time for its hastiness in transferring the case to the police, as well as its reluctance to develop the case further to net bigger fish.ICW and TII lamented the blunders, saying that “the law enforcement instrument is a vital part of creating a deterrent effect against corruptors”.Read also: 100 days of blunders: Watchdog slams new KPK chairman’s performanceThe report further notes the KPK’s lack of a new strategy in preventing state losses from corruption, despite Firli’s oft-repeated claims that deterring corruption was his primary strategy.The KPK had stagnated in its programs to prevent graft in strategic sectors like politics and natural resources, the report said. Moreover, the KPK’s lack of coordination with other law enforcement authorities and regional administrations had also impeded its corruption prevention efforts.Meanwhile, several controversial actions had marred the KPK’s efforts, including the dismissal of Rossa Bekti who had led the investigation on the KPU bribery case. The report also cited the antigraft body’s reluctance to update the notices of investigation (SPDPs) on its website.In particular, the watchdogs lambasted the newly established KPK supervisory board, whose duties include approving or rejecting wiretapping and search-and-seizure warrants.The report deems the board “ineffective” as it had yet to look into the many public complaints filed against members of the KPK leadership.”The [KPK’s poor performance] cannot be separated from the series of attempts to weaken the KPK by the President and the House of Representatives through the past year, starting from the nomination of new leaders with political interests to the efforts to curb the KPK’s authority [through the revised KPK Law],” ICW and TII said in their report. “[These] measures are beginning to show their results: the KPK is no longer trusted by the public.”Read also: Indikator poll shows dip in trust, high health focus for govt’s COVID-19 responseThe watchdogs urged the KPK to improve its performance by being “more objective and independent” in prosecuting cases and ramping up graft prevention efforts.Responding to the report, KPK acting spokesman Ali Fikri said on Thursday that the commission appreciated the criticisms, and that it had been hard at work this year.According to the KPK, it had launched 30 investigations this year that implicated 36 suspects and recovered at least Rp 63 billion (US$4.5 million) in state losses from fines, restitution fees and seized assets.“We have also detained 27 suspects,” Ali said in a statement.He stressed that the KPK had continued to work on preventing corruption, such as by evaluating the government’s preemployment card program and urging state officials to file their wealth report.Topics :last_img read more