The building complex in Jakarta where Indonesia's People's Representative Council holds its plenary sessions. Photo: Wikipedia
The building complex in Jakarta where Indonesia's People's Representative Council holds its plenary sessions. Photo: Wikipedia

Sunday, December 9, was International Anti-Corruption Day, and it is an opportune time to reflect on what the Indonesian government’s fight against corruption has accomplished.

We should ask three questions: Does Indonesia have adequate laws to fight corruption? Does the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) have the authority and resources it needs to do its job? Has the public recognized the importance of civic participation in promoting transparency and accountability within the government? Unfortunately, the answer to each question is “No.”

The fight against corruption is more urgent than ever. Despite the government’s efforts, corruption is getting worse.

In 2017, Indonesia slipped six spots, to a ranking of 96 out of 180, on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) recently reported that in the first half of 2018, there were 139 corruption cases, many involving political parties, politicians, and various levels of government officials. ICW further estimated that, during this period, the government lost 1.09 trillion rupiah (US$75 million) to corruption and that 42.1 billion rupiah in bribes were paid.

Corruption in Indonesia’s public service has become a real concern for foreign investors. The need for companies to pay bribes to expedite public services or to protect their business interests has become commonplace. This has slowed the growth in foreign investment, which is critical for the nation’s continued development.

The Indonesian government has been committed to combating corruption for a long time. Nearly 20 years ago, the People’s Representative Council (DPR) enacted the Eradication of Acts of Corruption Law (UU Tipikor). Indonesia also ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). However, in practice, law-enforcement institutions still have not effectively implemented anti-corruption laws.

Meanwhile, in order to achieve a future free from corruption, Indonesia needs to have stronger legislation and more vigorous law-enforcement authority.

Indonesia still has not fully adopted the UNCAC provisions in its national legislation. This makes it harder to handle complex cases, especially those involving corruption in the private sector, trading in influence, illicit enrichment, bribery of foreign public/international organization officials, and asset recovery.

On November 27, the KPK, in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC), hosted a public review regarding the status of previous recommendations to implement UNCAC. The forum concluded that in order to comply fully with the UNCAC, Indonesia still needed to implement 24 recommendations out of a total of 32. This year, Indonesia is focusing on three of the recommendations.

The KPK strongly urged the ratification of the UNCAC through government legislation in lieu of law (known by its Indonesian acronym Perpu). The process for legislators to ratify the provisions of UNCAC is lengthy, so it is crucial to use this expedited process – especially given the national elections scheduled for April next year.

As corruption is endemic at all levels of Indonesian society, it is important to strengthen and to expand the authority of anti-corruption commission. The chief of the KPK, Agus Raharjo, has recommended that the commission be legally recognized as a permanent government institution, with adequate resources and clearly defined powers. Agus also has emphasized the importance of revising UU Tipikor to regulate corruption in the private sector.

While public corruption is a major concern, approximately 80% of corruption cases in Indonesia involve private sectors, according to the minister for national development planning (Bappenas), Bambang Brodjonegoro.

Corruption has been called an extraordinary crime. This is not surprising considering its complex structure and the unique tools needed to eradicate it.

To achieve its goal of eradicating corruption, the Indonesian government must expedite revision of the Eradication of Acts of Corruption Law by incorporating the complete provisions of the UNCAC. The government also must strengthen the KPK by making it a permanent institution.

By fighting corruption in the private and business sectors, the government will be able to build the trust of foreign investors and promote additional foreign investment. In addition, mitigating the risk of corruption in the political sector will strengthen Indonesian democracy.

Since International Anti-Corruption Day aims to raise awareness about the negative effects of corruption, we Indonesians should consider it as an important factor in the upcoming election year. We should elect leaders next year who offer the best anti-corruption agenda and who are dedicated to fight corruption.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

The writer studied international business and economic law at Georgetown University Law Center under LPDP scholarship. He is passionate about the issue of anti-corruption, money-laundering, and asset recovery.

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