Corruption in Indonesia or any other part of the world is not an unusual occurrence where politics is an art of the possible and the attainable.
But that is old news, right? The riddled reports on Indonesia’s widespread corruption, which has earned it a reputation as one of the world’s most corrupt countries despite the country’s transition from autocracy to democracy in 1999, can’t be true, right?
Protests against former leader Suharto’s corrupt dictatorship led to his ouster from office, and that was supposed to be the end of it.
On May 21, 1998, Bacharuddin Jusuf “BJ” Habibie reluctantly took control of the government despite not being dogged by the same corruption as his good friend Suharto.
July 23 2001 Abdurrahman Wahid was unable to sustain his reforms after being embroiled in corruption scandals. Lawmakers removed him from office in 2001 on grounds of alleged incompetence, ending his term early.
Former President Sukarno’s eldest daughter Megawati Sukarnoputri became Indonesia’s first female president on October 20, 2004 and is now the General Chairperson of the PDI-P (PDIP). Megawati Soekarnoputri has recently warned all of her party cadres not to engage in corrupt practices or they will be fired.
Mr. Clean, also known as Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was re-elected in a landslide in 2009 and said that it may take a decade or more to rid the country of its corruption problems.
Then a small-town politician named Jokowi Widodo became President in 2014, and his supporters thought they had won in the struggle against the elite for state power.
But shortly after being elected, he was required to placate those political elites and oligarchic powers just to continue his work in office, which led to appointing ministers with dubious track records.
Jokowi has said that he will do whatever it takes to ensure the continued effectiveness of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), calling corruption a “extraordinary crime.” However, his fight against corruption has been met with criticism.
Despite difficulties in gathering data on corruption and questionable corruption efforts, Transparency International’s 2021 Corruption Perception Index ranks Indonesia 96 out of 180 countries, down from 102nd the previous year.
Indonesia’s score represents its perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0-100, with 0 indicating highly corrupt and 100 indicating very clean.
And according to the UN General Assembly Special Session on Corruption (UNGASS Corruption 2021), the Indonesian Government Failed to Prove Its Anti-Corruption Commitment among the Member States.
Yes, there will always be those that criticize, maybe the very same people who once criticized a bill that modified Law No.30/2002 on Corruption Eradication for Indonesia.
A bill which impaired the KPK’s ability to operate and investigate corruption cases and ultimately weakened and disrupted their work.
Work like setting up warrantless wiretaps on high-level targets such as businessmen, bureaucrats, bankers, governors, diplomats, lawmakers, prosecutors, police officials, and other untouchable firms with political ties.
And, while the amendments are undoubtedly disastrous for the KPK and Indonesia’s anti-corruption efforts, they could have been far worse.
According to Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), the KPK pursued approximately two dozen legislators serving between 2014-2019.
While some see Indonesia’s future as bleak and have given up, others continue to fight. Despite government crackdowns, Indonesian civil society is still able to mobilize enough support to exert political pressure.
The question now is, who will succeed President Jokowi Widodo to lead the nation after 2024?
Airlangga and Golkar are not the only ones with an eye on 2024, there is Central Java’s Governor Ganjar Pranowo, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, Jakarta’s Governor Anies Baswedan and many others who claim to have the right ambitions.
Is Indonesia’s lack of democratic freedoms and corrupt ways tolerable?
After all, corruption has existed since the Egyptian dynasty, and it appears that no matter how many reforms are implemented, corruption will continue to be a problem regardless of the actions directly aimed at curtailing it.
If corrupt behavior is triggered by economic incentives and market forces, what new approach or technology can be used to combat such corruption that is both successful and cost-effective? And how might corrupt officials react to such changes?
Would you rather send more money to a bumbling government, or let visionary philanthropists solve society’s problems?
Would you rather have self-appointed social engineers—whose sole qualification is vast wealth—shape public policy according to their personal views, or try to repair democracy?
Whether you’re the head of a anti-poverty program that loses 18% of subsidized rice meant for poor households, a local district forestry official who allows logging above the legal logging quota in exchange for cash, an official accepting bribes from contractors in exchange for awarding contracts for various public works projects, or another type of foreign bribery allegation…
Remember that the pandemic is still wreaking havoc around the world, and that all countries must work together to combat it. Politicians, officials, businessmen, bureaucrats, board members, shareholders, bankers, governors, diplomats, lawmakers, prosecutors, police officials, and other untouchables with hidden agendas must be pleaded with to stop their wrongdoing and change course before it is too late.
To prevent this political virus from spreading and wreaking further havoc, all international communities must be vigilant and take action, including you.
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