Fri, 21 Mar 2003

Laws insufficient to combat corruption, officials say

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The lack of political will among Indonesian leaders to combat corruption had made efforts to enforce the country's numerous anti-corruption laws useless, senior government officials say.

Ministry of Justice and Human Rights national law advancement head Romli Atmasasmita said here on Thursday that corruption practices were rampant at virtually all levels of government.

"It is obvious the increasing corruption is not simply a legal matter but a problem of leadership," Romli said at a seminar on bureaucracy reform and corruption prevention in Jakarta on Thursday.

Romli said corruption eradication in Indonesia was all talk and no action.

National Ombudsman Commission chairman Antonius Sujata and National Development Planning Board inspector Rusnadi Ridwan concurred, saying the problem rested not with the authorities' inability to combat corruption but with the government's lack of political will.

A number of laws on corruption eradication have been adopted since the nation entered the so-called reform era in 1998.

Decrees from the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), specific laws on corruption eradication and the establishment of the Civil Servants' Wealth Audit Commission (KPKPN) were taken as part of the nation's attempts to eradicate corruption.

Rusnadi warned the nation that if this matter was not handled properly the country could not free itself from this chronic problem.

He said a carrot and stick approach was needed to eradicate corruption. The carrot refers to incentives, such as adequate monthly salaries for state officials, while the stick means immediate and stiff penalties for corrupters.

"It must start with the President (Megawati Soekarnoputri), state officials and regional officials," Rusnadi said.

Anton Sujata said a report by Transparency International ranked Indonesia as the 7th most corrupt country in the world.

He said corruption had developed from practices by individuals and institutions to form part of the Indonesian culture.

Anton said the prevention and eradication of corruption, collusion and nepotism should start with government leaders.

"Statements without concrete action are not sufficient. There must be clear action plan," Anton said.

Measures to combat corruption -------------------------------------------------------------- 1. MPR decree No.XI/1999 on clean governance free from

corruption, collusion, and nepotism 2. Law No.28/1999 on clean state officials free from

corruption, collusion, and nepotism 3. Law No.31/1999 on eradication of corruption 4. Government regulation No.65/1999 on procedure of civil

servants' wealth audits 5. Presidential decree No.127/1999 on the establishment of the civil servants' wealth audit commission 6. Law No.30/2000 on the commission for corruption eradication 7. MPR decree No.VIII/2001 on the direction of corruption

eradication -------------------------------------------------------------- Source: The Jakarta Post