Anti-corruption drive in Jakarta has results
Stephen Fitzpatrick, Jakarta correspondent | September 24, 2008
INDONESIA’S aggressive anti-corruption drive is showing strong results, with an annual Transparency International index shooting the country up the world rankings.
The independent Berlin-based body’s survey of corruption perceptions has Indonesia sitting on 126th place, up from 143rd last year.
Indonesia director for Transparency International, Todung Mulya Lubis, yesterday described the rise as “significant” despite its translating into only a three-percentage-point improvement on the scale used for the survey.
“It indicates that the Government’s efforts to eradicate corruption are appreciated by respondents; they have begun to see how serious the Government is in handling corruption, particularly the actions of the Corruption Eradication Commission in seizing (corrupt) state officials,” the human rights lawyer said.
The survey of 180 countries collates a range of public polls to assess the degree of public sector corruption as perceived by business people and analysts.
Critics say the method has no base reference point and that the survey instruments are not used equally in all countries. Nor does it take account of different definitions of corrupt behaviour in different societies.
However, the organisation’s head, Huguette Labelle, yesterday said in Berlin that the latest results showed that “in the poorest countries, corruption levels can be a life or death issue when money for hospitals or providing clean water is misused”.
The Indonesian secretary-general for Transparency International, Rizal Malik, said that despite the good result there was a range of corruption-fighting measures “not yet complete” in the country.
“The Corruption Eradication Commission has failed to touch powerful state officials, especially those in the central Government,” Mr Malik said.
“This can be seen in the case of the Bank Indonesia funds suspected to have been received by government ministers MS Kaban and Paskah Suzeta.”
The two men, forestry minister and state-owned enterprises minister respectively, were recently implicated in an investigation into the use of 100 billion rupiah ($12.7 million) in central bank funds to bribe politicians in the previous government.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who came to office on a strong corruption-fighting platform, admonished the two men privately but did not sack them.
There is disappointment that Dr Yudhoyono may have gone easy on the two because of the involvement in the case of former Bank of Indonesia deputy governor Aulia Pohan, whose daughter is married to the President’s son.
Mr Malik said there was a range of corruption-fighting measures that had not yet been addressed at all, including implementing anti-corruption practices in individual government departments and addressing freedom of the press issues.