Tue, 05 Aug 2003

MPR urged to campaign against corruption

A'an Suryana, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Academics and non-governmental organizations demanded on Monday that the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) declare war on corruption in its final recommendation to be released at the end of its current Annual Session.

In separate meetings with the Reform faction and the National Awakening faction of the MPR, they also called on President Megawati Soekarnoputri to establish the planned anticorruption commission immediately.

The meetings between the MPR factions and a group of academics-activists calling itself the People's Anticorruption Movement (Garansi), were held on the sidelines of the MPR annual meeting here. The group was led by rights activist Bambang Widjojanto, who is also a former chairman of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI).

The MPR annual meeting is scheduled to end on Thursday.

"We want to avail of this opportunity to raise awareness among the public and government officials that corruption is an extraordinary crime that demeans the dignity of Indonesians, and therefore we must start fighting all out against corruption," Bambang told reporters after the meeting with the Reform faction.

Political analyst Eep Saefulloh Fatah asserted that the war on corruption be enshrined in a special decree issued by the MPR at the end of its ongoing session.

"It may be unrealistic, but at the very least the MPR should accommodate the feelings of most ordinary Indonesians, who want corruption to be uprooted from Indonesian soil," he said.

Bambang stressed that the issue of corruption was still of great importance today and needed to always be highlighted due to the fact that the efforts made so far to fight corruption had yielded no results five years after the start of the reform movement.

The reform movement swept the nation in 1998, with the combating of corruption being one of its ultimate goals.

Corruption would likely increase ahead of the general election and the country's first ever direct presidential election in 2004.

"The parties will be competing to win as many seats as possible, and the 2004 election contest will likely be rife with corruption," said Bambang during a press conference here.

Also during the press conference, Revrisond Baswir, a lecturer at the Yogyakarta-based Gadjah Mada University, led his fellow academics and NGO activists in reading out a declaration urging a war on corruption.

The declaration called on all elements of the nation to free themselves from corruption immediately. It also demanded that the government immediately establish the anticorruption commission and that an extraordinary court be set up to prosecute suspected corruptors.

According to the declaration, the war against corruption must be started immediately as it was still rampant in the country. Corruption was also a crime against humanity that hurt the economy and drove people into poverty.

The academics and activists complained that the process of establishing the anticorruption commission was being carried out at a snail's pace.

The Anticorruption Law No. 30/2002, which was passed in November of last year, stipulates that an anticorruption commission must have started working by Dec. 27 of this year at the latest.

"But, so far the government has only started proposing the names of people who will serve on the committee to select the candidate members of the anticorruption commission," Garansi said in a release made available to the media.

Given the slow pace involved in the establishing of the anticorruption commission, the group demanded that the President pick up the names of the committee members by Aug. 16 of this year at the latest.