Thu, 10 Jul 2003

Corrupt courts seen as RI's greatest problem

Endy M. Bayuni, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Corruption in the courts, rather than within political parties or the police, is the problem that needs the most immediate attention in Indonesia, according to a new opinion survey.

The survey, by Berlin-based Transparency International, also found that many Indonesians believe that corruption will decrease in the next three years, albeit only slightly, and that corruption was affecting more the political life, and the culture and values of society, than the business environment or their personal and family life.

Transparency International, an independent organization fighting against global corruption, published its latest survey on the Global Corruption Barometer involving 48 countries, in its website ( The group last year ranked Indonesia as the sixth most corrupt nation in the world in its annual corruption perception index.

The finding that corruption in the courts should be the first to be resolved in Indonesia, based on a survey of around 1,000 people, departed from the trend found in most other countries surveyed, which overwhelmingly singled out political parties as the institution that needed the most attention.

The survey, conducted by Gallup International, asked the question: "If you had a magic wand and you could eliminate corruption from one of the following institutions, what would your first choice be?"

In Indonesia, nearly one in three picked the courts of law. Political parties came second, utilities and police third and fourth respectively.

Peru is the only other country where more people picked the courts of law over other institutions.

Highlighting the fact that in 33 of the countries surveyed, the respondents would use their magic wand to eliminate corruption in political parties, Transparency International chairman Peter Eigen said:

"The people of the world are sending a clear message to political leaders: They have to rebuild the trust of ordinary people ... It is time to recognize the full extent of corruption among political elites ... and the need to curtail conflicts of interests and political immunity."

The survey also asked: "Do you expect the level of corruption to change in the next three years?

Respondents in Indonesia, Colombia and Croatia were among the most optimistic that there would be changes for the better, according to the report.

In Indonesia, 41 percent of the respondents believe that corruption will decrease a little, while nearly 26 percent say it will stay the same. Nearly 18 percent believe it will increase.

The survey also asked respondents in these countries how corruption was affecting their personal life, the business environment, the political life and the culture and values of society, ranking their answer between "not significantly", "somewhat significantly" and "very significantly".

In Indonesia, more people (42.5 percent) said corruption did not significantly affect personal and family life, and 46.3 percent said it somewhat significantly affected the business environment.

An overwhelming majority responded "very significantly" on the impact of corruption on political life (79 percent), and the impact on culture and values of society (55.3 percent).