A decade of bureaucratic reform and new more stringent laws have not helped curb corruption in courts or improved the country's appeal to foreign investors, a discussion heard in Jakarta on Tuesday.
Constitutional Court chief Moh. Mahfud MD said even though all post-New Order leaders had pledged to fight for bureaucratic reform, bureaucracy had remained stubbornly constant, with decades-old systems remaining in place.
Recent complaints by a Middle Eastern envoy about the difficulties in obtaining permits to invest in Indonesia underlined the dilemma, he said.
"Alwi Shihab (President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Middle East envoy) complained about this matter to the President, who was confused as to how the matter could have come about," Mahfud said.
"There are so many civil servants involved in bureaucracy that many of them don't know what to do and so decide to make life difficult for people (who have to deal with them)," he said in his key note speech he read at the Creating Anti-Corruption Bureaucracy discussion on Paramadina University's campus.
He said Indonesia's bureaucracy had a way of resisting change, something he referred to as a "blockade mechanism".
Mahfud said the country's standings on the world's corruption index had marginally improved largely owing to the establishments of three relatively new law enforcement institutions: The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), the Judicial Commission and the Constitutional Court.
"Without these three institutions, Indonesia would have a very bad ranking because its other law enforcement institutions -- the Supreme Court, the National Police and the Attorney General's Office -- are still terribly corrupt."
Transparency International ranks Indonesia 126 on its 2008 corruption perceptions index, compared to 143 last year. The country's index rose by about 0.3 points to 2.6.
Tuesday's discussion was jointly organized by Paramadina and the Bung Hatta Anti-Corruption Awards Foundation. At the discussion were this year's award winners Judicial Commission chairman M. Busyro Muqoddas and former KPK deputy chairman Amien Sunaryadi.
Busyro said fraud was rampant at all levels of the country's courts, and that the situation had been exasperated by a tradition of feuding between justices.
"Among the modus operandi of these corrupt judges are: Postponing court sessions in which verdicts are read, manipulating legal facts, ignoring evidence and substantially twisting the meanings or structures of laws to help the people who pay the justices," he said.
Amien cited low salaries as a motivation for justices to turn to corruption. Busyro said his commission had proposed increasing justices' salaries to help curb corruption in the courts.
-- JP/Erwida Maulia