Thursday, February 24, 2011
INDONESIA - Fighting Corruption a Long-Term Effort
It is no secret that corruption has been deeply ingrained into the national psyche and removing this cancer will take time. Punishing those who are caught with their hands in the till is critical to this effort, but so is educating Indonesia’s young on why corruption is not only illegal but damaging to the nation’s future
Fighting corruption has become one of the most urgent tasks facing the state and the nation. Over the past five years, under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, hundreds of state officials have been arrested, tried and imprisoned for corruption.
And despite continuing corruption in the country, the progress made must be acknowledged. The most prominent case recently, of course, concerned mid-ranking tax official Gayus Tambunan whose trial riveted the nation. That such trials are now taking place openly and transparently is a major breakthrough.
However, as the latest report by Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) indicates, the battle has only just started. Data recorded by ICW showed there were 448 corruption scandals involving local officials nationwide last year, with 176 cases recorded during the first six months.
“In the first half of 2010, state losses caused by corruption nationwide amounted to Rp 2.1 trillion [$237 million],” said Agus Sunaryanto, head of the investigation unit at ICW. “In the second half of the year, losses amounted to Rp 1.5 trillion.”
The report found that North Sumatra was the most corrupt province in the country last year.
The graft watchdog recorded no less than 64 corruption scandals involving North Sumatra government officials at either the provincial or district levels throughout 2010.
One of the more prominent examples of corruption in the province was the case of North Sumatra Governor Syamsul Arifin, who was arrested in October in connection with alleged graft committed while he was head of Lankat district.
East Kalimantan also did badly as the province has one of the highest levels of losses at Rp 601 billion for the second half of 2010 alone.
Jakarta too was high on the list, recording Rp 200 billion in state losses from six separate corruption scandals.
These are worrying numbers, but yet only a few short years ago such reports were not even written, let alone widely distributed through the mass media.
Fighting corruption is a long-term effort. Hong Kong, for example, took 30 years to eradicate corruption and even now some cases surface periodically. The government must therefore stay the course and the public must be patient in allowing the efforts to bear fruit.
It is no secret that corruption has been deeply ingrained into the national psyche and removing this cancer will take time. Punishing those who are caught with their hands in the till is critical to this effort, but so is educating our young on why corruption is not only illegal but damaging to our future. Jakarta Globe