Wed, 29 Apr 2009
The state personnel corps (Korpri) - civil and military personnel - is likely the only institution in this country that does not need to be worried about the results of the April 9 legislative elections and the July 8 presidential election, because whoever wins either of them, the bureaucracy will remain the de facto supreme power holder in this country.

And as proven in the last 10 years, no one has the guts or the will to reform the bureaucracy, despite continuous public outcries against the evil behavior of the institution. But as long as the nation remains powerless against the bureaucracy, there is only little hope that we will be able to accelerate our development at the maximum speed.

Amid the heated political tension among political parties due to the chaotic legislative election management and the growing rivalries among our presidential aspirants, today The Jakarta Post runs a special report on the meager progress in reforming the bureaucracy.

This newspaper wants to draw our attention to the crucial issue, because no matter who will be our next president, the practices of corruption, collusion and nepotism (KKN) will continue damaging the country's economy, as long as the nation is not able to terminate the roots of the evil practices. And only when we are able to create a much better bureaucracy can Indonesians hope their nation will be no longer be in the list of the world's most corrupt nations.

On Monday, the Post in its front page report quoted the state minister for state administrative reform as saying the government would spend Rp 60 trillion (US$5.71 billion) this year for the Indonesian Military (TNI), the National Police (Polri) and the Attorney General's Office, as part of the government's three-phase state institution reform.

The first phase was conducted in 2007, when the Finance Ministry and the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) became the main focus of the reform program. The second phase targeted the State Secretariat and the Cabinet Secretariat.

Have the reform efforts been successful? Only the end users can say whether the aforementioned institutions, like the tax or custom and excise offices, are cleaner from corruption. But so far, according to public perception, the government offices are still far from being free from dirty practices.

Thanks to our tremendous progress in reforming our political system in the last 10 years, in this country, anyone - at least theoretically - can become president, governor, mayor or regent, as long as they can get the people's mandate, which the voters grant through direct elections. But no matter how strong the power given to the leaders, it can be said the directly elected leaders are totally powerless against the powerful bureaucracy in their administration.

Political leaders come and go anytime, but civil servants are mighty rulers who remain untouchable. And perhaps no one knows how to effectively end the power of the corrupt civil service system. We don't need an in-depth investigation to test the truthfulness of public perception of our civil service. Perhaps most Indonesians who have experience in getting public services will testify how difficult - or how impossible - it is to get good service without paying kickbacks or bribery.



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