Many government critics, non-governmental organizations and the media perhaps do not realize, or pretend not to realize, that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's anti-corruption offensive has sparked fear among many corruptors. Who could sleep soundly at night knowing the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has their name on its list?
The offensive has become a deterrent to corruption and when the President is able to settle a few more major corruption cases, public confidence in him will grow, which will be nothing but good for Yudhoyono going into next year's general election. The President already has strong working capital: people still trust his personal integrity.
It is true that corruption remains rampant in the country, but it is also true that we have made progress -- no matter how small compared to the size of the problem -- in eradicating this deadly social virus. It is also true that most of the jailed corruptors are not former high officials, ministers, police chiefs and regional heads. But still there has been meaningful progress.
At least now corruptors are much more careful in how they go about robbing the state coffers. They have had to learn more sophisticated methods to avoid prosecution.
On Monday there was a corruption-related suicide in a small regency in East Java. If the reports are accurate, this could be the first time an alleged corruptor in Indonesia has followed the tradition of his "colleagues" in Japan, taking his own life in a display of responsibility or to avoid prosecution. Is this a sign that the war on corruption has spread terror among corruptors?
Amid rampant corruption in the country, and President Yudhoyono's fight against the deadly disease, the suicide report sends a strong message to Indonesian corruptors: Be careful!
Edi Widjanarko, a civil servant in charge of financial affairs at Kediri regency in East Java, hanged himself Monday afternoon at his home amid an ongoing audit of the regency's finances by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK). Wearing his civil servant uniform, Edi was found dead by his wife. In a report Tuesday, a Jakarta newspaper related the suicide to the audit.
On Tuesday, this newspaper reported the South Jakarta District Court sentenced former State Logistics Agency (Bulog) head Widjanarko Puspoyo to 10 years in prison for corruption. Widjanarko's method of stealing from the state coffers to enrich himself and his family was blatant, even primitive. Many people also had a good laugh at his sad attempts at hiding the stolen money, including putting some in a bucket in the family bathroom.
Indonesia remains one of the most corrupt countries in the world. In 2007 alone, 41 regents and mayors were linked to corruption cases, including the regents of Kupang and Rote in East Nusa Tenggara, and Kendal and Semarang in Central Java.
It is interesting to note very few of the suspects came from the bureaucracy. Most of the targets were politicians from new political parties. Many of them used primitive tactics that were easily traced by investigators. Experienced bureaucrats have more know-how when it comes to committing corruption undetected and avoiding indictment.
The President, however, needs to reach bigger targets, because many believe most of those jailed for corruption are common crooks. He must be able to make some big catches.
Why should he hesitate to take action against members of the House of Representatives? The legislators should be ashamed to criticize the government's so-called slow progress in the war on corruption, because they themselves have become a big part of the problem.
Corruption and abuses of power in our judicial system remain common. Judges, prosecutors, police and lawyers have little trust from the public. Despite the gloomy picture, there is still hope the nation can make more progress in alienating the crime, which has brought the nation to the brink of bankruptcy.
For corruptors, while they still have no shame in the face of the nation or God, at least now they have to be more careful in satisfying their greed. But they need to remember there is a limit to everything.