Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 01:34 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 18 Jul 2018 | 01:34 | SYDNEY

Indonesian corruption


Stephen Grenville

29 September 2008 12:30

Ross McLeod is surely right to say that the Indonesian anti-corruption push is home-grown, and has popular support. So much so that, if SBY showed decisive follow-though on current high-profile cases, he would probably bolster his chances considerably for victory in next year’s presidential election.

Of course, he has to work within the system while changing it – so he has to simultaneously placate and reassure. To do this, wholesale reform is not feasible; instead, he has to significantly shift the line between 'acceptable' and 'unacceptable', giving time and wiggle-room for these higher standards to be absorbed into changed behaviour. In the process, some will be punished unfairly, and many of the guilty will go scot-free. But the timing seems propitious: Megawati’s party has ejected an MP who admitted to receiving corruption pay-off; the Corruption Commission (KPK; pictured) has been given carriage of cases against the Attorney-general’s office; and no-one in the military has publicly come to the defence of the very senior general apparently implicated in the death of human-rights activist Munir. In each case this has created room for maneuver against individuals without bringing down the whole temple.

Is it even possible that the presidential candidates might begin to out-bid each other on this issue of corruption? Democracy works in strange ways. Maybe SBY needs a copy of Lampedusa’s 'The Leopard', in which the old aristocrat, confronted by the revolution of democracy, is told: 'If we want everything to stay the same, then everything has to change.'

Photo by Flickr user Shanghai Daddy, used under a Creative Commons license.