Mon, 01 Aug 1994

NGOs against naming of corrupt officials

JAKARTA (JP): Executives of two non-governmental organizations said that a city counselor's proposal to publish the names of corrupt city officials in the mass media would not be effective.

Rita Serena Kolibonso, chief of the criminal division of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), said the proposal is not only ineffective but also violates the "presumption of innocence" principle.

"I believe that we should use a legal approach to handle this matter and since their conduct could be classified as a crime then the city administration could press charges against them," she said over the weekend, adding that the press could then cover the trials without violating anyone's legal rights.

Rita was commenting on a proposal from councilor Mahmud S. Chaniago of the Indonesian Democratic Party faction who suggested that the city administration announce the names of corrupt officials in the mass media. The announcement, said Mahmud, will show people that the administration is doing its best to fight corruption.

Rita's objection was supported by Zoemrotin K. Susilo, chairperson of the Indonesian Consumers Organization.

"We have already seen how that plan works. Even if they broadcast those names on a nationwide TV program, corruption remains," she said.

Zoemrotin said, however, that the plan might work if the city started by announcing the names of those involved in big cases before proceeding with the smaller ones.

"It is useless if they start with the smaller cases," she said.

Rita shared her view, stating that the city must first deal with corruption in upper level management.

Corruption has become deep rooted in the city administration and people seem to have accepted the condition as part of its operation. Governor Surjadi Soedirdja has repeatedly warned officials about the crime since his appointment in 1992.

Many blame the problem on the low wages municipal employees receive, but Zoemrotin said that the crime is also committed by rich employees.

"I think a person's morals is the issue here," she said.

On Friday Surjadi said that people should not hesitate to report to him any city officials who are abusing their power or collecting illegal levies for public services and that he would deal with them.

The reports, Surjadi added, must be supported by clear cut evidence proving that officials are guilty of the charges.

Rita believes that tighter controls should be immediately established because recent corruption cases clearly illustrate that the existing Waskat built in control system has failed.

"They must reevaluate the Waskat system to eliminate corruption," she said.

Zoemrotin said that the only solution to reduce corruption is to encourage municipal employees to be more responsible.

"Instead of making themselves richer, they should use their position to provide the best services for the public," she said. (03)