By Abu Hanifah JAKARTA Indonesia (Xinhua)
-- Corruption remains a serious problem in
Indonesia with scores of senior officials and parliament members
arrested in the past year by the nation’s anti-graft commission (KPK)
as the government steps up its measures to tackle the issue.
The nation’s struggle to eradicate corruption has been an uphill
effort as the illicit practice of stealing money from the state has
been rampant and systematically conducted in state institutions.
rising number of arrests and legal proceedings against corrupt
officials and lawmakers over the last few years, however, has
seemingly not provided enough of a deterrent for officials to stay
away from corruption.
The recent long and weary process of bringing parliament speaker
Setya Novanto to justice over a scandalous corruption case he
committed, has illustrated how serious the issue is in Indonesia and
how steep the uphill struggle is to tackle it.
Despite his distinguished post in the country that required him to
be a role model and respect the supremacy of law, Setya demonstrated
his defiance by filing an appeal against the allegations leveled by
the KPK in July and made a political attempt to rebuff the KPK by
having parliament form an inquiry task force against the commission.
The latter move incited staunch public criticism of parliament,
which once ranked as one of most corrupt institutions in the
The public regarded the forming of a parliamentary inquiry task
force against the KPK as being an absurd move that ran contrary to
the government and the will of the people to totally eradicate
corruption in the country.
“This is serious. They used political variables to oppose the
nation’s anticorruption drive. Instead of facilitating it, the
parliament members actually broke the nation’s hope of seeing a
brighter, corruption-free future,” HS Dillon, a member of
Indonesia’s Anti-Corruption Civil Society, said.
He added that rampant corruption would hinder the nation from
advancing further towards becoming a prosperous country.
In addition, Setya also tried several bogus attempts to be absent
for KPK questioning after being summoned. His excuses included
illnesses and an instance of literally running away from KPK
His escape tactics ended up in a dramatic car crash that saw him
admitted to hospital last month. Wasting no time, KPK enforcers
arrested him in the hospital and immediately detained him in a KPK
Setya was charged for committing corruption connected to a project
related to national digital ID cards that ran from 2011 to 2013 when
he served as parliament member.
He was charged of illicitly reallocating some 2.3 trillion rupiah
(about 169.2 million U.S. dollars) from 5.9 trillion rupiah (about
434.1 million U.S. dollars) allocated for the project.
The parliament speaker, who also chairs the nation’s influential
Golkar Party, finally resigned from his post when he was detained by
the KPK, and is awaiting legal proceedings.
Setya’s attempts to dodge justice have yet to end. He filed another
appeal to a court, asking for help from President Joko Widodo as the
trial against him was underway.
He has received no reply thus, and is facing corruption charges
which may carry a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.
Along with Setya, the powerful government-sanctioned anti-graft
agency has also arrested dozens of parliament members on suspicion
of their involvement in multiple corruption cases.
At least 12 governors, 64 regents and majors have already been
arrested by the KPK for their involvement in corruption cases since
the anti-graft commission formed in 2004.
In addition, the KPK also arrested former ministers and other
high-ranking officials on corruption charges during their service
Legal proceedings against some of them have been concluded with
various sentences of up to six years of imprisonment imposed along
with the obligation to return the money embezzled to the state.
The most shocking arrest involving an Indonesian corruption case was
of Akil Mukhtar, who headed the Constitutional Court (MK) in 2013,
the nation’s highest legal institution.
The MK chief justice was caught redhanded receiving a bribe
amounting to 250,000 U.S. dollars at his official residence. The
bribe was related to disputed results of a regional election in
Kalimantan. He was sentenced a year later to life in prison.
Eradicating corruption has been a focal policy for governments
ruling Southeast Asia’s largest country over the last several
There has been a drastic surge in the number of arrests of violators
since the KPK launched its crackdown in the mid-2000s, with
widespread media coverage of the dramatic arrests of high-profile
people who were caught redhanded accepting bribes.
Despite the media hullabaloo, however, many of those arrested
received only lenient sentences, after being prosecuted, averaging
between just four to six years imprisonment. This, despite the
maximum legal sentence being life imprisonment.
Legal experts here have maintained that such lenient sentences do
little by way of providing a deterrent to the accused to reoffend,
or from deterring would-be grafters from illicitly lining their own
The experts have also highlighted flaws in the law and loopholes
that allow embezzled funds to flow out of the country.
Sentences brought against those charged with corruption are not
commensurate with the impact their crimes have had on ordinary
people in light of the enormity of state funds usually involved,
critics have also asserted.
The punishments have also not included social sanctions, essential
in deterring such acts from occurring in society, experts have also
Such sanctions could involve removing political rights, banning
access to certain financial services, as well as the ability to work
in the public sector. They could also include a full disclosure of
the person’s identity in the media, they added.
“Indonesian law is still attached to conventional methods, but needs
to be innovative and inventive, in creating punishments against
violators,” Ramadan Pradiptyo, an executive at the Economics and
Business Research Center at Gajah Mada University, said.
Indonesia has ratified the United Nations Convention Against
Corruption (UNCAC) through Law No. 7/2006 that allows the nation to
be more creative in its efforts to eradicate corruption issues
plaguing the country, he added.
The current government administered by President Joko Widodo has
proposed using digital technology aimed at minimizing the
opportunities to commit corruption.
The government has planned to apply e-budgeting, e-planning and
e-procurement systems to facilitate administration processes in
proposing budgets, development plans and procuring goods for
government proposals in the near future.
President Widodo said recently that his administration is now in the
process of providing a legal basis for the systems, which are
expected to significantly reduce instances of corruption.
Widodo also plans to reform the permission issuance process in
authorized institutions, so that the public and business people
wanting to obtaining official permission for their business
activities are not duped.
Digital technology could certainly help Indonesia tackle corruption,
as a lifetime digital footprint would always provide
incontrovertible evidence against those seeking to defraud the
government and swindle the nation’s law-abiding, hardworking
Indonesian president to hold
cabinet meeting in Bali to assure tourism safety
JAKARTA Indonesia (Xinhua) --
In a gesture to assure the volcano eruption threat was already over
in Bali, Indonesian President Joko Widodo planned to hold a cabinet
meeting in the Indonesia’s resort island.
“We want to show that Bali is safe for those planning to spend
yearend and New Year holiday. There shouldn’t be bad perception
about Bali anymore due to the volcano eruption issue,” the president
said after completing his visit in Indonesia’s easternmost province
of Papua on Friday.
As part of the efforts to ensure the safety of tourism in Bali, the
president and his ministers were scheduled to have a tour to the
island over the weekend.
Indonesia has declared that the situation in most part of Bali has
returned to normal, and it’s safe for tourism activities, even
though the status of Volcano Mount Agung has yet to be downgraded
from the existing highest alert of level 4.
Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan said
earlier that the areas prone from being affected by possible
eruption of the volcano were the ones declared as red zones within a
10-kilometer perimeter from the volcano’s summit, or 2 percent of
the overall Bali island.
Tourism in Bali has been severely battered by the escalating
volcanic activities of the Mount Agung whose last eruption 54 years
ago claimed over 1,500 lives.
Mount Agung’s eruption has also displaced more than 71,000 people
who are now seeking refuge in over 200 shelters in Bali’s northeast