Controlling Corruption in Indonesia

30 Dec 2020

In the following pages are a list of practical Ideas for fighting corruption in Indonesia together with a strategy for their implementaton. The evolution of this list of practical ideas has been facilitated by the Partnership, which has brought together over 800 people from all over Indonesia to present their opinions, their experiences, and the fruits of their discussions. These ideas, however, in no way belong to the Partnership: they are offered by the Partnership to help all organizations which want to work in the field of fighting corruption. They are an Indonesian product, from a very wide-ranging and participatory process, involving very many Indonesians from many walks of life and many different places.

One of the first acts of the new Parliament following the end of the Orde Baru was to pass a TAP MPR (Stipulation XI of 1998) which stated the opposition of the Indonesian people to corruption and their resolve to combat it. The Anti-KKN committment has been underlined and repeated by Presidents Abdurrahman and Megawati. In spite of the rhetoric, however, very little has been done to seriously combat corruption, and to date there is no nationally agreed strategy.

The measures that have (or have not) been taken are:

  • Passing legislation to fight corruption, but without giving sufficient legal or budgetary strength to the institutions so created to make such legislation effective (Asset Declaration Commission, Ombudsman Commission)
  • Passing legislation, and then allowing it to be made inoperative through Supreme Court decisions (TPGPK)
  • Perverse AGO or Supreme Court decisions which have failed to penalize corruption offenders
  • Delays in bringing cases to court (Police, Attorney General’s Office, IBRA)
  • Confusion and conflict of jurisdiction for corruption cases (Police, Attorney General’s Office, Ministry of Justice)
  • Delays in passing legislation agreed to be necessary (The Anti-Corruption Commission, the new procurement law)
  • Ignoring of findings from anti-corruption agencies (BPK, BPKP)

At the same time the people of Indonesia, according to various polls and surveys, are very keen to end corruption and consider it one of the chief evils of the present state. A large number of NGOs now exist whose purpose, in whole or in part, is to fight corruption (ICW, MTI, PSHK, TI-I, the GeRAK network, the JARI network, the LBH network, FITRA). They are important because the government has not created an organisation to fight corruption. At the same time the now free media regularly reports on corruption issues and cases, particularly the perverse decisions of the AG’s office and the Courts. The Indonesian public freely hears about corruption cases, and journalists are free to report on them.

Also during the same time, according to experienced analysts, corruption has expanded – growing particularly in those areas which were the hope of the prodemocracy movement i.e. the political parties, the national and regional parliaments, and the locally autonomous regions. Those concerned with fighting corruption express great frustration – the government does not seem to take the situation seriously, or, if it does, it seems unable to change the status quo. An example is the terminal at the national airport where Indonesian returned workers from overseas employment continue to have their savings extorted from them by criminal immigration and customs officers. The Government has recognized the seriousness of the problem, has issued orders that such behaviour shall stop, but nothing changes.

It seems to many Indonesians that the corrupt people are in charge and they are resisting, successfully, all efforts to change the present situation. There is no Ministry designated as the focal point for fighting corruption, and no agreed national strategy. At the same time, many donor organizations are pressing the government for movement on the issue, and giving conflicting advice