Corruption in Indonesia has reached an alarming stage due to its massive scope and intensity. Examples of law enforcement officers implicated in corruption include former prosecutor Urip Tri Gunawan of the Attorney General’s Office (AGO), former Tangerang District Court judge Muhtadi Asnun, Jakarta Administrative High Court judge Ibrahim and an ad hoc judge at the Bandung Industrial Relations Court, Imas Dianasari.
The Corruption Perception Index released by Transparency International Indonesia ranked Indonesia near the bottom, with a score of 3.0 in 2011.
Vinay Bhargava and Emil Bolongaita stated that corruption can create problems in a development context. It can worsen income inequality and poverty, reduce investment rates and lower economic growth. Corruption leads to the loss of state revenue to improve public facilities and infrastructure such as roads, bridges, healthcare facilities and schools. The lack of basic infrastructure continues to create an economic gap between urban and rural areas as well as poverty in the rural areas.
Further, corruption also makes the economic and business climate (investment) less than attractive. The amount of “unexpected expenses” due to bribes for government officials leads to inefficiencies within a company. It is also believed that corruption will kill the interest and desire of individuals to become entrepreneurs or to start businesses.
This is certainly a bad precedent for countries such as Indonesia, whose economy is largely dependent on workers in the informal sector and small and medium businesses. A loss of interest in becoming entrepreneurs will limit job opportunities for unskilled workers.
Combating corruption is not an easy thing to do. There are problems that continue to impede the eradication of corruption. First is the problem of human resources. Referring to the Law on the Corruption Court, judges who are assigned to the Corruption Court are from state courts or appointed ad hoc. In that sense, the Corruption Court does not have judges specializing in corruption.
Second is the overlapping authority among government agencies. Three agencies are authorized to handle cases of corruption, namely the AGO, the National Police and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
Third is the absence of deterrents. Under government regulation No. 28/2006 on the rights of prisoners, perpetrators of corruption are entitled to sentence remissions, assimilation and parole.
We have to keep our spirits up in combating corruption. Strong political will from the government might be a starting point to minimize corruption in the country and could create a conducive atmosphere for the fight against corruption. Leaders have to show their vision and set themselves as role models. They must sincerely commit themselves to eradication of corruption through exemplary conduct and modest lifestyles.
Setting an exemplary example could be started by signing an integrity pact and showing it to the public. A leader must give an example to the public of how to live modestly. It must be remembered that salaries of civil servants have been set by legislation. So if their leaders’ lifestyles are beyond the limit of reasonableness, this will certainly provoke suspicion from the public.
Serious commitment to combating corruption can be shown by creating a legal system and environment that are inimical to corruption, including human resources (in the legal system) that cannot be bribed. This can be done by imposing severe prison sentences — 20-year sentences for example — for corrupters without the possibility of remission, leave or parole.
Another solution is to establish a one-roof system so as to avoid overlap between the three institutions in charge of eradicating corruption in Indonesia. Such overlapping authority makes anticorruption measures less than optimal. A one-roof system will promote efficiency in terms of finances as well as human resources.
Furthermore, there is a need to promote anticorruption campaigns at educational institutions throughout Indonesia. Such campaigns for example, should start at the elementary school level. The main purpose is to give an understanding that corruption is an extraordinary crime.
Corruption has caused serious damage to the society, the nation and the country. It therefore requires extraordinary treatment to combat such acute social illness, involving all elements of the nation. ●