Indonesia is a land of strengths and opportunities, but also of weaknesses and threats. For instance an excessive retrograde interpretation of religion hampers a country’s development. And so does an excessive greedy interpretation of capitalism.
If in a capitalistic society success, respect and esteem are measured primarily or exclusively by accumulating individual wealth, the existential values (integrity, solidarity, dedication, creativity, altruism, innovation, merit, intellectual achievement ad infinitum) loose out. Greed is no sound alternative for hard work and honesty. Greed is corruption’s breeding ground.There is something rotten in a state once common citizens secretly start to admire and imitate the perceived way to success of wealthy people regardless of their means and tools.
Graft, corruption, nepotism – they are all part of our human condition. It’s nasty vice which belongs to the huge sinful family of theft – stealing from public assets, public money and tax payer’s money. So it actually is pretty close to high treason as well, one might say. On the other hand I think no one is lily white in this respect. If you happen never to have experienced that temptation it may be due to unfavourable circumstances only. The Biblical John 8:7 makes sense to me: ” He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone..”. Temptation is huge indeed once the socio-cultural context is favourable.
“Indian democracy is based on corruption”, was a recent headline . Though India’s GPD is growing fast just 1% is getting disgustingly rich, only a moderate percentage achieves the status of middle-class and the gap with the other, poor and extremely poor 90% is growing fast.
But what about Indonesia? For reasons of self protection let’s quote an insider on the subject. Let’s refer to Abraham Samad. Last Wednesday the KPK man told students that according to his knowledge graft is the norm and honesty the exemption in the country. He even insinuated the system, officials and law enforcers themselves are major agents of this appalling white collar crime. And he is the expert.
Wow! That hurts. But sad as the diagnosis may be some people have a talent to turn a drama into a farce and in the process provide evidence which substantiates Abraham’s accusation.
Dipo Alam, cabinet secretary, Nurul Arifin of Golkar and Indra of PKS played the main characters in this false comedy. The first one disclosed a list of corruption related officials by their party affiliation. It showed all parties were heavily involved though Golkar and PKS in relative terms topped the corruption riddled Democratic Party. The verbal fight which followed was not about corruption, it causes and solutions, but about which party is the leading the pack and which one is just a relatively modest criminal organization. And by which characteristics that should be measured. By damage in terms of money, by number of incidents or by the absolute or relative occurrence of corruption in relation to voters or members of the party.
The political ruling elite sometimes appears to be a theatre company performing cynical and absurd plays.
Abraham Samad was not really exaggerating last Wednesday. The stunning, breathtaking and devastating figures (131 individuals, or 74.43 percent, were investigated for alleged roles in graft and 25.29 percent for roles in regular criminal cases – which probably is just the tip of the iceberg) show the system and the overwhelming part of it’s actors at long last should take responsibility and act like they were (wo)men of honour; step down, stand trial, do penitence. Shame, shame on them for criminally abusing their authority. They should not get away with it and their abundant foreign bank accounts. Abraham’s hint at death-penalties is too drastic in my opinion but fleecing them completely and putting them behind bars like the extremely hard criminals they are, would only be appropriate.
But how to bring that about if graft is the norm in society???