On one occasion, former President Abdurrahman Wahid, or who is familiarly called Gus Dur, made a joke that is remembered by many to this day. Gus Dur, who died in 2009, said that there are only three police officers in this country who cannot be bribed.
The three figures in question are statues of police, speed bumps and Hoegeng. The latter figure has indeed become a legend, and his name is increasingly being mentioned in the midst of a number of cases that have tarnished the image of the police in recent times.
His full name is Hoegeng Iman Santoso, he is the fifth Chief of Police of the Republic of Indonesia, where he held that position from 1968-1971. Apart from having an active career in the police, he was also trusted to hold various positions during the administration of President Soekarno.
One of the stories that stuck with Hoegeng the most is his immunity to bribes or gifts. Around 1956 when he served as Head of the Criminal Investigation Division of the North Sumatra Regional Police, the name Hoegeng stole the attention.
He, who had just been transferred to Medan, refused the gifts given by the businessmen by placing the items on the road in front of his house. A senior politician from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) from Medan, Panda Nababan, who was a teenager at the time, witnessed the incident for himself.
“He lives in Polonia, near my house. There were businessmen who gave it to him, he put outside it a refrigerator, washing machine, electric iron. Put it outside, he threw it away. Let it be a flea pick up. It was famous in Medan at that time. Usually in Medan it’s the style where entrepreneurs, new officials come and get serviced immediately, “said Panda.
The story was told by Panda in the book review event Hoegeng: Police and the Exemplary Minister on Tuesday (27/10). The book, which was published in 2013, has been re-launched in a revised edition with various additions, as well as to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Hoegeng. This book was written by Suhartono, and published by Kompas Book Publishers.
People Close to Soekarno
While serving in various positions, Hoegeng was a close person to President Soekarno. The two had met since 1947. At that time Hoegeng was Soekarno’s bodyguard when the president visited Yogyakarta.
Soekarno’s eldest son, Guntur Soekarnoputra, is a living witness to the closeness of the two figures. He said it was quite easy to distinguish Soekarno’s closeness with the people around him.
If someone has been invited to discuss in Soekarno’s bedroom, it is certain that their relationship is close personally.
Hoegeng was one of the few officials at that time, whom Sukarno invited several times to discuss in his bedroom.
Amazingly, the closeness did not diminish Hoegeng’s firm attitude. When Wisma Yaso, which was built as a place for Soekarno’s fifth wife, Dewi Soekarno, was completed, Soekarno asked Hoegeng for help to find furniture according to the request of his wife who wanted furniture from abroad.
However, said Guntur, the request was firmly rejected because according to Hoegeng the applicable regulations did not allow it.
“Pak Hoegeng spoke frankly to you. That can’t be sir. If you want, please issue new laws or new rules. You can understand what Mr. Hoegeng said, and it has not happened. All the equipment at Wisma Yaso is taken from domestic products only,” said Guntur recounting the incident.
Another story of Hoegeng’s honesty was found when Soekarno needed a number of paintings to be displayed in the palace. To Hoegeng, Soekarno asked for help to buy some paintings, but at the same time said that he had no money.
Some time later, Hoegeng came with his own painting. Soekarno then asked Hoegeng how much he had to pay for the painting.
“You don’t have to, it’s free,” said Guntur, imitating Hoegeng’s answer to Soekarno.
Soekarno then displayed the flower painting on the wall on the left side of his bedroom.
Proposed National Hero
A number of parties proposed that Hoegeng be designated by the government as a National Hero. One of the suggestions came from the Governor of Central Java, Ganjar Pranowo, because Hoegeng was born in Pekalongan, Central Java.
The chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly, Bambang Soesatyo, was among those who agreed with the proposal.
“The Central Java Governor’s proposal to encourage Pak Hoegeng to become a National Hero deserves consideration. In order to inspire and motivate other law enforcement officers or other officials, have the same attitude, act the same, as Pak Hoegeng,” said Bambang.
The same support came from the National Police Commission. Kompolnas member Poengky Indarti said his party would provide recommendations to the President to make this happen.
“Because by supporting Pak Hoegeng to become a National Hero, this will simultaneously encourage the implementation of the cultural reform of the Police. So that the National Police becomes a more professional, independent and loved institution by the community,” said Poengky.
However, Kompolnas admits that making Hoegeng a role model today is not easy. One of the strategies is through a good recruitment and education process. Police leadership must also set a good example, as Hoegeng acted.
Efforts to make Hoegeng a role model for the police have actually been made. At least, according to the Inspector of General Supervision (Irwasum) of the National Police, Komjen Agung Budi Maryoto, Hoegeng’s name is included as public knowledge in the police education process.
“It can’t be exactly the same, because the era can’t be the same. But we have to take charisma, character, stance, integrity, loyalty,” said Agung. [ns/rs]