Wed, 09 Mar 2005

SBY needs to act faster

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), during his visit to Bali last month, said that he wanted corruptors to be punished severely so that state revenue would be higher, which would help alleviate poverty (Republika, Feb. 28).

Susilo's statement and his other previous statements -- to a certain extent -- sound like mere rhetoric, as they have not been followed up on by his law-enforcement agencies.

Since he announced that Dec. 9 would be the national day for corruption eradication -- which was followed by Presidential Instruction No. 5/2004 -- and declared he would personally head the anticorruption campaign, much to the people's disappointment, nothing has been achieved to this day. Not a single suspect has been brought to court so far, aside from the non-active governor of Aceh, whose trial is underway.

There is actually a good lesson to be learned from South Korea, whose president also leads the campaign against corruption. In this case, he chairs a presidential commission to fight corruption and, in doing this job, he is helped by a police detachment to conduct investigations.

He presides over a monthly law-enforcement agencies meeting to evaluate the commission's performance (The Jakarta Post, May 28, 2004). The results have been impressive in that the country's former president was brought to court and forced to return the money he allegedly embezzled. Later, he went into self-imposed exile in the mountains.

Now, as far as Indonesia is concerned, there is no such presidential commission to fight corruption other than the above instruction to his aides, e.g. eight ministers up to all governors, regents and mayors including the law-enforcement agencies to act together with the existing Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). This system seems to be too bureaucratic and takes a long time to produce results, given the many institutions that are supposedly responsible for eradicating corrupt practices.

Therefore, there is a need for Susilo to simplify the movement and he himself should preside over a routine meeting of law-enforcement agencies -- bi-monthly or monthly and ask the police to investigate the alleged embezzlers, and punish them severely if they are proven guilty. In this way, people would see significant results in the fight against corruption, and his popularity would rise even further.

M. RUSDI, Jakarta