Photo by: Michael Hayes
A demonstrator outside the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) displays his placard, which reads: "A thief of the people's money … makes trouble for the people. Salim the one who cudgels … and the one who hangs."
The one thing all sources agreed on concerning Indonesia's efforts to combat corruption is that political will from government leaders was critical to making headway. This was mentioned repeatedly vis-a-vis the current president and other individuals in this government.
An interesting case in point is current Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who was appointed by President Yudhoyono in 2005 and since then has made enormous waves inside the bureaucracy.
The Finance Ministry oversees the Customs Office, which had a notorious reputation for taking bribes from importers and exporters.
In one swoop, Mulyani decided to transfer all 1,300 customs employees elsewhere in the government bureaucracy and replace them with 800 new officers.
In an attempt to keep the new staff honest she paid them four times the amount their predecessors had been making.
But even such a bold move as this wasn't enough to stem the festering rot.
According to an August 5, 2008, article in Australia's The Age, "Some months later the KPK raided the Customs Office at the Jakarta port and found envelope after envelope of banknotes stuffed in filing cabinets, office drawers and even down officer's socks. The KPK netted $60,000."
Mulyani told The Age, "Was I expecting that after six months, everybody would become clean? Certainly not. I have 62,000 people still working for me. Will the judges immediately become good? No, this is going to be a continuous battle, which leaders must wage constantly."
Mulyani is still in her post as finance minister although the Indonesian press has reported various aspects of an ongoing internal struggle by her enemies to replace her.
Transparency International Indonesia's Rizal Malik summarized best the road ahead for those attempting to stem corruption.
"I believe there is no short-cut to anything," he said. "So we will have to find a painful way but we are on the right path. In the next five years we will keep going. If not, in 25 years our children will keep going."
Major corruption cases in Indonesia recently prosecuted or being prosecuted
- Aceh Governor Abdullah Puteh convicted; several other governors and
mayors have also been prosecuted.
- Chairman and members of the General Elections Commission have been
- Former Minister of Religious Affairs convicted for the misuse of Hajj
- Trial of former Bank Mendiri CEO and two ex-directors for the alleged
misuse of bank loans.
- More than 100 Regional Representative Council (DPRD) members have
been charged with corruption. In West Sumatra, 43 DPRD members were
convicted of graft in 2005.
- Former chairman on Investment Coordinating Board convicted of
misappropriating 30 billion rupiah (about $3 million) of state funds.
- A former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator
convicted for extortion.
- Former head of Indonesian National Police's Criminal Investigation
Unit convicted of receiving bribes.
- Case against South Jakarta District Court judge for extorting money
from Employee Social Welfare Insurance SOE.
Source: Curbing Corruption in Indonesia 2004-2006,
by Soren Davidsen, Vishnu Juwono and David Timberman
Recent headlines from The Jakarta Post on
stories related to combating corruption
OCT 13 Manggara official named graft suspect
Prosecuting officers have declared head of Manggara Social Affairs
Agency, Abdul Hafid, a suspect in a corruption case involving a fund
for disaster victims two years ago.
OCT 13 Graft fighter named chief detective
Police chief General Bambang Hendarso Danuri has sent a clear message
he will be tough on corruption by selecting known graft crusader West
Java Police chief Inspector General Susno Duadji as the force's chief
OCT 15 AGO probing graft in justice ministry
General's Office has begun investigations into an alleged graft case
within the Justice and Human Rights Ministry, which is believed to have
resulted in hundreds of billions of rupiah in state losses.
OCT 15 Publicity-hungry legislators shun spotlight after questioning by KPK
any other day, members of the House of Representatives would be on the
prowl for TV and print journalists, in an attempt to publicise what
they claimed to have done for their constituents back home. The
Corruption Eradication Commission has changed all the celebrity style
of many legislators and, for some, struck terror into them. On Monday,
10 legislators from the House's Commission IV, which oversees forestry,
slunk unnoticed into the anti-graft commission's office as they
fulfilled summonses for questioning in connection with a bribery case
in the conversion of a protected forest in Banyuasin, south Sumatra, to
the Tanjung Api-api Port.
OCT 15 KPK grills minister on graft case
Eradication Commission questioned Industry Minister Fahmi Idris on
Tuesday in connection with a graft case centered around the Manpower
Ministry, which he used to lead.
OCT 15 Former consul to Malaysia detained
Eradication Commission has detained former Indonesian Consul General
Arifin Hamzah for allegedly embezzling immigration fees during his
tenure in Kota Kinabulu, Malaysia, from 1999 to 2000.
OCT 16 Ex-education head in graft case.
Prosecutors Office has named former provincial education agency head
Hermansyah and PT Siger Media director Muhammad Andi as suspects in an
embezzlement case that has cost the state 400 million rupiah
(US$41,000) in losses.
OCT 16 Jambi secretary gets three years for embezzlement
Corruption Court sentenced Jambi secretary Chalik Saleh to three years
in prison, fined him 150 million rupiah (US$15,500) and ordered him to
return 950 million rupiah in restitution to the state after he was
found guilty of embezzlement.
OCT 16 KPK detains RI immigration officer
Eradication Commission (KPK) has arrested Ayi Nugraha, formerly
stationed in Kuching, Malaysia, for allegedly manipulating immigration
fees from 1999 to 2005.
OCT 18 KPK, AGO to meet on BLBI takeover
Eradication Commission and the Attorney General's Office will hold a
meeting to discuss the unresolved corruption cases involving Bank
Indonesia liquidity support funds.
OCT 18 ‘Bribes were my own money': Azirwan
administration secretary Azirwan has claimed that the 2.25 billion
rupiah (US$230,000) he distributed to various lawmakers was his own
OCT 18 KPK arrests 8 suspects in separate graft cases
In two separate corruption cases, the Corruption Eradication Commission
has detained six officials at the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry
and two former officials from Indonesian consulates in Malaysia.
OCT 18 Vote counting in Rote Ndao on hold over money politics
Rote Ndao Regional General Elections Commissions and the Election
Supervisory Committee have suspended vote counting for Tuesday's
regency election following reports of alleged money politics.
OCT 20 Zatapi case the 'tip of Pertamina iceberg'
continue investigating state oil firm PT Pertamina over allegations it
imported a sub-standard oil type called Zatapi last year, a lawmaker
and an observer say the case may be one of many.
OCT 22 BPK spots massive abuses in energy sector
Audit Agency said Tuesday it had found some irregularities in
Indonesia's energy sector that might indicate corruption, after
auditing the 2007 financial reports of government agencies and
OCT 23 Lawmaker asked businessman for money, graft court hears
Sarjan Taher of the Democratic Party asked businessman Chandra Antonio
Tan for money to facilitate the approval of the South Sumatran
administration's proposal for a protected forest conversion, a court
OCT 23 Anti-corruption drive goes to school
Eradication Commission launched a series of anti-corruption modules to
be taught in schools, from elementary to high school level.
OCT 23 Ex-health chief detained for graft
The West Nusa
Tenggara prosecutors' office has detained the former head of the
provincial health agency, Baiq Maghdalena, after seven hours of
interrogation at the office, a senior prosecutor said.