The Scourge of Corruption in Indonesia

“The duty of youth is to challenge corruption.”
-Kurt Cobain

Corruption exists almost all countries. However, it directly impacts the common people’s lives and increases poverty in the society. It is the main reason of social and economic hardship.  In the developing countries, corruption has been an impediment to progress and development. Indonesia is the world’s 7th largest country in terms of combined sea and land area. It is world’s fourth most populous country as well as the most populous Muslim majority country.

Indonesia is regarded one of the world’s most corrupt countries. According to the 2016 results of Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, Indonesia ranked 90th place out of 176 countries. In Indonesia corruption is widespread and people are completely fed up with this type of system. Government has completely failed to address these issues because of corruption in government. There are more government departments susceptible to corruption as a result of ineffective regulatory mechanisms. Indonesia’s judicial system is also included in corruption list. The outcome of judicial proceedings including verdicts and criminal investigation can be influenced to bribery. In 2002, chief justice, Akil Mochtar  was accused of accepting 260,000 dollars bribe in exchange for fixing a court ruling.

Indonesians consider police department to be the most corrupt public institution in the country. The Indonesian police solicit bribes on every level, ranging from traffic violation to criminal investigation. In 2013, an Indonesian police inspector general, Djoko Susilo, who was found guilty of corruption and money laundering and sentenced to 18 years in prison by the Jakarta court.

Corruption and illegal logging is widespread in Indonesia. It is illegal for public official to solicit money in exchange for favors. The forestry ministry is amongst the most corrupt department in the country. The government has miserably failed to tackle illegal logging. Every year virgin forests go in smoke for palm plantation. Some species are on the verge of extinction in Indonesia. Government is reluctant to enforce law and order. In one corruption case, the former governor, Rusli zainal, was found guilty for illegally issuing logging permits in Riau, where huge amounts of virgin forests has been lost to palm oil plantation. Rusli was sentenced to 14 years in prison. In March 2012, Ridwan Sanjaya, an Indonesian ministry official belonging to the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry was sentenced to six years in prison and ordered to pay back cash to the state by the Jakarta corruption court for rigging a tender bid in 2009 for a home solar energy system project. The tender project was worth Rp 526 billion (USD 57.86 million). The accused was found guilty of accepting kickbacks worth Rp 14.6 billion that caused a state loss of Rp 131 billion.

It is very hard for foreign companies to establish a company in Indonesia because of red tape and widespread extortion in the process of obtaining permits and licenses. There is increased cost for establishing an international company in Indonesia. It is very difficult for foreign companies to get permits and licenses. Indonesia’s red tape increases excessive corruption risks for companies as there exists no legislative guidelines for facilitation payments.

In 2002, the study showed that Indonesia has lost as much as Rp2.13 trillion to corruption. In 2002, Indonesian government established KPK (CORRUPTION ERADICATION COMMISSION). KPK vision is to free Indonesia from corruption. It’s duties include investigating and prosecuting corruption cases. It has the authority to freeze property, detain suspects, including well-known figures. Without any doubt KPK is the best institution in Indonesia. Unfortunately, KPK officials are vulnerable to attacks because when they handle high level cases. The senior investigator within the KPK, Novel Basweden was attacked by acid on his way to Morning Prayer near his home in north Jakarta. He suffered burns on his face from an acid attack.

Back in 2015, another KPK official named Afif Miftah received a bomb threat. Even his car was splashed with acid. At the time, he was handling several big cases including money laundering, bribery allegations involving former Democratic Party politician Muhammad Nazaruddin. Majority of people strongly support to eradicate corruption from its roots in Indonesia. When KPK’s investigators were attacked large number of people showed solidarity to the KPK and its efforts to fight against the corruption.

Corruption is the main reason of poverty and unemployment in the society. There is saying that “corruption is a like ball of snow, once it’s set a rolling it must increase”. Corruption impedes the development progress in Indonesia and causes insignificant injustice for the common man. Only handful of people are benefiting from corrupt society. I hope government will take major steps to eradicate corruption and try to ameliorate the standard of living of people in Indonesia. The task is monumental but not impossible. It will require a leadership with veracity.

Aqib Farooq Mir

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