Prisoners need entertainment too: Deputy house speaker criticizes KPK raid on corrupt prison

Photo: Deputy House Speaker Fahri Hamzah / @FahriHamzah / Instagram
Photo: Deputy House Speaker Fahri Hamzah / @FahriHamzah / Instagram

On Saturday, officials from Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) conducted a raid on Sukamiskin Prison in Bogor, a penitentiary that exclusively houses corruption convicts, and found that the new warden had been engaging in the selling of ‘luxury’ cells to inmates, complete with amenities such as AC, flat screen TVs, refrigerators, private bathrooms and even their own private keys to their cells.

The raid led to the immediate arrest of Sukamiskin’s warden and five others, as well as calls for Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly to step down. Anti-corruption activists and almost all politicians denounced the flagrant corruption in the penal system and demanded that major reforms be made to prevent such violations (which have happened many, many times in the past — including at Sukamiskin) from happening again.

We said “almost” all politicians because, unbelievably, there are some who would actually criticize the KPK for uncovering the rampant corruption in the prison system and even dare to defend those corrupt practices. One who was willing to do that, in public, was Deputy House Speaker Fahri Hamzah.

“I’m sorry but if the KPK is doing things like this it’s like they have no other work to do so. So they try to look busy, searching for ways to cause a sensation.” Fahri said yesterday as quoted by Tribun.

Fahri said that the KPK did not have jurisdiction over the prison system and was overstepping their authority in conducting a raid of Sukamiskin (which is false, the KPK has special jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute corruption in all areas of the government). He also argued that the KPK’s recent actions somehow showed that President Joko Widodo had no real agenda to fight corruption, despite the KPK having racked up several major corruption arrests and convictions in the last year such as the jailing of former House Speaker Setya Novanto.

But, even more incredibly, Fahri defended the corrupt practices at Sukamiskin that allowed corruption convicts to continue living the good life when they were supposed to be doing hard time.

“Sukamiskin prison is the most humane in Indonesia,” Fahri told Tempo yesterday, saying  he did not agree with plans to reform the prison.

The deputy house speaker argued that the amenities provided to the rich inmates at Sukamiskin Prison were not luxurious but necessities. “People detained for years need entertainment too.”

Indeed, prisoners in Sukamiskin were not only allowed to have rooms that have been described as being similar to “5-star hotels” but there are also stories of prisoners being able to throw parties for guests including live entertainment from famous dangdut singers in the prison’s luxuriant garden area.

We’re sure Fahri will now start campaigning for more humane conditions in Indonesia’s other prisons for common criminals, most of which are known for being notoriously overcrowded, violent and understaffed.

The deputy house speaker is a member of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) but will not be contesting a seat in the 2019 election due to ongoing legal disputes with the party leadership.

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