Mon, 11 Sep 2000

Sacrifice is key to success

Prof. Dr. Satjipto Rahardjo, SH, an expert in legal sociology, wrote in Kompas of Aug. 26, 2000 that the best way to gain the recovery of the nation is that all parties (the government and the people) must have the courage to subject themselves to introspection, put things in order and make sacrifices in accordance with their respective capacity.

As the professor's statement is suitable to our present condition and conforms to the Javanese words of wisdom Jer basuki mawa bea" (No pain, no gain.), it is the government that must be proactively calling for people to make sacrifices. The government must actively carry out campaigns on this subject and at the same time introduce the right procedure to do so.

One way is to donate part of our money or our assets to a variety of purposes, such as opening up employment opportunities, alleviating the plight of refugees, dealing with riots, overcoming the threat of disintegration (in Aceh, Maluku and Irian Jaya) and making installments on debt repayment.

In a situation marked by a very deep crisis, the government must not hesitate to stipulate a policy forcing the well-to-do people to part with some of their money or assets for the purposes referred to earlier by introducing, for example, a stipulation of progressive tax rates on deposits (says, between 15 percent and 50 percent) on excess property ownership (like having many houses, plots of lands, automobiles and the like). The money would be used to help the poor in our society.

This policy would work well only if the leaders of the nation served as models. They must demonstrate simple living, for example. I believe our rich fellow countrymen would be willing to take part in this donation program as long as the government can make a transparent report on how the money/assets have been used.

Unfortunately, it seems to be mere wishful thinking to hope that this donation or sacrifice campaign would be successful because only two of our national leaders, namely the manpower minister and the defense minister, have declared their wealth. The others have simply turned a deaf ear to the public demand that the wealth of high-ranking government officials be declared.

Therefore, I call upon the leaders of the executive, legislative and judicial government agencies, including the speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly and his deputies, to set examples, not rhetoric.