The re-election of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, confirmed by the country’s Elections Commission last week, provides an excellent opportunity for the triumphant incumbent to fulfil anti-corruption promises made throughout his campaign.
Two key bills currently under discussion by Indonesia’s House of Representatives threaten the continued existence and support of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), although it has played an important role in ensuring that top officials engaged in corrupt activities are prosecuted. The commission’s existence and the high number of cases handled by it thus far, represent an important achievement.
As his next term begins the people of Indonesia and the international community have high expectations that President Yudhoyono’s anti-corruption commitments will be translated into action to guarantee the KPK’s continued existence and its ability to act as a competent, independent body fighting corruption.
Transparency International (TI) stands behind Transparency International Indonesia and other Indonesian NGOs in support of the KPK as a stable institution, in accordance with provisions of the United Nations Convention against Corruption ratified by Indonesia in 2006, and condemns recent attempts to weaken the KPK’s independence and authority by turning it into a temporary, ad-hoc institution.
Despite their undeniable achievements and widespread public support, the KPK and the special court for corruption crimes (Tipikor) have been under incessant attacks by parliament, the attorney general’s office and the police, among others. It is time for such attacks to stop detracting from the problems at hand which affect the daily lives of the Indonesian people. President Yudhoyono has a decisive role to play in ensuring that such a vital institution has the necessary powers and resources to fully investigate and prosecute corrupt acts.
TI’s 2009 Global Corruption Barometer shows increasing public confidence in the KPK’s and Tipikor’s ability to handle corruption. More than 70 per cent of respondents feel the government has been effective in addressing corruption. On the other hand, the House of Representatives and the judiciary are perceived to be the most corrupt institutions.
These contrasting results indicate that Indonesians do not attribute recent anti-corruption achievements to those institutions - which should be key for eradicating corruption when functioning properly- but to independent institutions such as the KPK, the Audit Board of Indonesia (BPK), and Tipikor.
Failure by the government to shield the KPK and the Tipikor court, will not only hinder all efforts to eradicate corruption, but will certainly impact on the political and economic credibility of Indonesia. Most importantly, it will dent Indonesian’s belief that their government is serious about establishing and maintaining solid mechanisms to hold the corrupt to account.
Transparency International is the civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption
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Teten Masduki, Secretary General TI Indonesia
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