Sat, 29 Apr 2000

Corruptors pampered

The axe swung by the communist government in Beijing to eliminate corruption has fallen without any discrimination on corrupt officials (this is not just rhetoric, as is usually the case in Indonesia). The victim, this time is Li Chenlong (48), former deputy mayor of Guigang in Guang XI province. On April 23, 2000 he was executed after being found guilty of receiving a bribe worth US$475,000 (repeat only US$475,000 or Rp 3,800,000,000) as reported by Kompas, April 24, 2000, page 2.

Now compare this with the penalties given to Indonesia's big- wig corrupt officials like Dicky Iskandardinata (only eight years in jail for taking $800,000,000), Towil Heryoto (former director of BAPINDO, only six years imprisonment?). Both are free now.

And what about Eddy Tansil, he was sentenced to 12 years for skimming Rp 1.2 trillion; he walked out of jail after bribing a guard.

There are other bandits involved in bank scams as well as corrupt officials in state enterprises. They have all been found guilty and sentenced but the punishment meted out on them in this beloved Pancasila-based state is very light, much lighter than sentences passed in a communist country for similar crimes.

Short jail terms, a comfortable cell equipped with air conditioner, TV, video player, etc., as well as permission for the convicts to leave their cells for any made-up reason -- these are the main reasons why corruption, which has virtually destroyed our country, can prevail unchecked even in this era of reform.

Sometimes I ask myself, even allowing for our deep hatred for the communists' brutal and evil acts, why we have become so emotional that even the generation of 66 have refused to budge from their anti-communist stance.

The Minister of Laws and Legislation has refused to compromise and most of the factions at the House of Representatives have vehemently opposed the proposed revocation of Decree of the People's Consultative Assembly No. XXV/1966 banning the Indonesian Communist Party and the spread of Marxism-Leninism and communist teachings.

A number of famous figures have shown exaggerated reactions to the proposal of President Abdurrahman Wahid with the consequence that waves of demonstrations and rallies have swept the capital city and other major cities throughout the country.

Unfortunately, we don't seem to be serious about taking firm action against corruption, which has virtually brought about the bankruptcy of our nation. We are now the world's second biggest debtor country with debts totaling almost $140 billion.

Corruption, which found fertile ground during the New Order regime, is the culprit responsible for the miseries that our people now are enduring. It is also responsible, indirectly, for the threats of disintegration and the sizable number of lives lost in those "rebellions". It is the manifestation of greed, avarice and egotism of most of our government officials.

Moral decadence has become very serious as our community has fallen too deeply into the ravine of idolatry of wealth, regardless of whether or not the wealth is obtained from corruption.

It is common practice now to measure people by their wealth. The richer someone is, the more adulation he will receive. The bigger the corruption that one is involved in, the farther away a prison will be from him/her.