Korupsi di Indonesia

Teks ini hanya tersedia dalam bahasa Inggris

The abbreviation 'KKN' is a familiar one to Indonesians. Whenever there are anti-government protests this abbreviation can be heard shouted by the protesters or seen written on banners. The abbreviation stands for corruption (korupsi), collusion (kolusi) and nepotism (nepotisme) and - much to the dismay of the majority of the Indonesian population - has been an intrinsic part of Indonesian governments, probably culminating during president Suharto's New Order regime (1965-1998). The issue of political corruption in Indonesia continues to make daily headlines in the Indonesian media and generates much heated debate and fierce discussion. In academic circles scholars have continuously searched for answers to the question whether this corruption has its roots in traditional precolonial societies, the Dutch colonial era, the relatively short Japanese occupation (1942-1945) or the subsequent independent Indonesian governments. However, an unequivocal answer is yet to be found. For the foreseeable future it just has to be accepted that corruption in Indonesia's political, judicial and corporate domains ìs (although there are some signs - which are discussed below - that point towards an improvement of the situation).

Historical Framework of corruption in Indonesia

Although there are great examples of corruption in Indonesia's earlier history, we take as our starting point president Suharto's authoritarian New Order regime (1965-1998) that was characterized by impressive rapid and sustained economic growth (with Gross National Product averaging 6.7 percent annually between 1965 and 1996) but also well-known for its corrupt nature. Suharto utilized a system of patronage to ensure loyalty of his subordinates, leading members of the national elite and critics. In exchange for business opportunities or political positions Suharto could count on their support. With the Armed Forces (including its intelligence apparatus) and huge resources (stemming from the oil booms in the 1970s) at his disposal, he became the apex of the national political and economic system, resembling the patrimonial power of traditional rulers in the pre-colonial past.

Regarding economic policy-making Suharto relied on the advice and support from a narrow group of confidants around him. This group consisted of three categories: USA-trained technocrats, economic nationalist (who supported the idea of a large role for the government in the economy) and capitalist cronies (consisting of his family members and some rich ethnic Chinese conglomerates). At times all these categories were accused of being corrupt but most emphasis went to the small circle of capitalist cronies (particularly Suharto's children) who were - much to the dislike of national businesses and society at large - the major beneficiaries of state privatization schemes and often ran large business monopolies that operated with little oversight or monitoring.

One important characteristic of corruption during Suharto's New Order was that is was rather centralized and predictable. Investors and businessmen could more-or-less predict the amount of money they had to put aside for these 'extra' costs and knew which people they were expected to bribe. But there was also the tactic of including a Suharto crony in business activities in order to reduce uncertainties caused by bureaucratic red tape. This same pattern existed on a local level where governors and local army commanders enjoyed the same privileges but were always aware of repercussions from higher up if they would push it too far. With the new era of Reformasi, that started after the fall of Suharto in 1998, this situation was about to change.

Decentralization of Indonesian Corruption

The situation changed drastically when after the fall of Suharto in 1998 an ambitious regional decentralization program was started in 2001 which foresaw the transfer of administrative autonomy away from Jakarta to the districts (not to the provinces). This new course was in line with demand of the people but had negative side effects on the distributional pattern of corruption. Bribe-taking was no longer 'coordinated' as it had been in the past but became fragmented and unclear. Decentralization meant that local governments started to produce new local regulations (often not tightly designed) which made it possible for more officials from multiple levels of the government and other agencies to mingle and request for financial extras.

Realizing the urgent need to tackle corruption (as it harms investments and generally fosters the existence of continued injustice in society), a new government agency was established in 2003. This government agency, the Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi, abbreviated KPK), is envisaged to free Indonesia from corruption by investigating and prosecuting cases of corruption as well as monitoring the governance of the state (for which it received extensive powers). However, opinions regarding its achievements are divided. Critics point out that the KPK is more focused on tackling lower profile figures, although recently some high profile cases such as high-ranked police officials, judges and the party treasurer of president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Democratic Party have been covered. This partial success and courage of the KPK has triggered counteracts - mostly from persons that have been prosecuted or interrogated - claiming that the KPK itself is a corrupt agency. In recent years a number of scandals have emerged in which members of the KPK were - reputedly - framed by senior police officers and arrested in order to undermine the KPK's authority.

During the past two elections president Yudhoyono has profiled himself as being devoted and determined to tackle corruption in Indonesia, in particular regarding corruption within government circles. This made him very popular around the time of the elections of 2009. However, the ongoing persistence of political corruption and several high-profile graft cases within the government have caused his approval ratings to free fall after 2010. Another blow to Yudhoyono's prestige was the departure of Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Indonesia's Finance Minister from 2005 to 2010. Sri Mulyani, who enjoys a reputation of integrity (although slightly sullied by the Bank Century scandal), was tasked to reform Indonesia's corrupt tax and customs office. She had considerable success and could count on the support of many Indonesians. But her performance also created enemies. In May 2010 she left Indonesian politics to become a managing director at the World Bank Group. Widespread speculation, however, was that her resignation was due to political pressure from businesses with high political connections. In particular, the Bakrie Group was often mentioned in Indonesian media in connection herewith (Aburizal Bakrie being chairman of the Golkar party; a coalition member of Yudhoyono's government). Critics say that Yudhoyono should have supported her.

Moreover, several corruption cases - involving members of Yudhoyono's party - have emerged in recent years and have seriously damaged the allure of both his Democratic Party and Yudhoyono himself (who is regarded by some as being a weak leader because of the emergence of these corruption scandals in his party).

Positive Developments in Indonesia's Fight against Corruption

Despite this mostly negative overview, there are some positive signs. First of all it needs to be mentioned that there is a big urge from the Indonesian people to eradicate corruption in Indonesia and the free media provide ample room to deliver their voices on a national scale (although some media institutions - owned by politicians or businessmen - have their own agenda for doing this). But the popular urge to tackle corruption means that being anti-corrupt is actually an important vote-gainer for aspiring politicians. Being involved or mentioned in a graft case can seriously damage a career as popular support declines. A negative side effect (for the country's economy) of this public scrutiny is that government officials are currently very prudent and hesitant to disburse their government budget allocation, being afraid to become a victim in a graft scandal. This careful behaviour can be called the success of the influence of the KPK that is watching the money flow, but also causes slow government spending.

Berlin based politically non-partisan Transparency International publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index (based on polls) which assesses "the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians" in all countries around the world. It uses a scale from one up to ten. The higher the outcome, the less (perceived) corruption there is. In their latest list (2013) Indonesia occupied the 114th place (out of a total of 177 countries). However, it needs to be stressed that there is not a 100 percent accurate method to measure corruption because of the nature of corruption (often hidden to the public). The numbers below, therefore, only show the perceived degree of corruption by the participating voters in the poll of that particular country. But because a population usually has a good sense of what is happening in the country, these numbers do indicate something interesting.

Corruption Perceptions Index 2013:

    1.   Denmark    9.1
     -   New Zealand    9.1
     -   Finland    8.9
    4.   Sweden    8.9
    5.   Norway    8.6
  Singapore    8.6
 114.   Indonesia    3.2

Source: Transparency International

These numbers indicate that - in accordance with the text above - there is a rather negative public view of the degree of political corruption in Indonesia. However, when we take previous results in account the index shows a more positive trend:

    2004   2005   2006   2007   2008   2009   2010   2011   2012   2013
Indonesia    2.0    2.2    2.4    2.3    2.6    2.8    2.8    3.0    3.2    3.2

Source: Transparency International

Indonesia is actually one of the few countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index that shows a steady and marked improvement, coinciding with the Yudhoyono administration which started in 2004. But it needs to be stressed that - although representing an actual development - these numbers should be handled carefully as the methodology used in the polls changes from year to year.

Regarding corruption there is still a long reform road ahead for Indonesia. Corruption hinders the country from realizing its economic potential and causes significant injustice in Indonesia's society as some people are disproportionally benefiting from a corrupt society. But credit have to be given to Indonesia's free media and the KPK as both play a vital role in the reduction of corruption.