Justice the Indonesian Way

By webadmin on 05:12 pm Apr 30, 2011
Category Archive


The 14-year-old boy arrested for picking up a phone card is now on trial. I actually thought the case had been dropped, but alas no, the Indonesian justice system it seems must plod on. That was the case with the search and rescue volunteer who was finally freed after being locked up for 105 days while he was being tried for having a pocketknife on him, a vital piece of his rescue equipment.

These cases are, at least to me, mind-boggling, and they are only two examples of many. My question is why are the police so assiduously pursuing cases like these. There does not seem to be any shortage of illegal activities going on in Indonesia, so why are they wasting resources and money on this kind of thing?

We see on a daily basis cases of politicians being caught with their sticky fingers dripping with the people’s money. Money that if properly used could change people’s lives by building infrastructure. Some of these politicians even steal the rice right out of the mouths of the people when they take money meant for social programs.

In my opinion there should be the death penalty for this kind of behavior. But instead if they are caught, it is a light slap on the wrist and then back to the stealing trough. What is wrong with this picture? We have the kid who picks up a Rp 10,000 phone card and the politician who pockets half a region’s budget, usually billions of rupiah. And more often than not, it’s the kid with the phone card who comes out worst.

The things that go on here on a daily basis would turn any other democracy inside out with accusations of corruption, abuse of power, dereliction of duty and plain GREED. Here, people just shrug their shoulders and say, “Yeah, they’re politicians. What can we do?”

What seems very clear is that power rules here. There is little regard for the law. At least the power elite seem to think (and maybe rightly so) that they are well above the law. But where does power come from? In an ideal democracy, power comes from the people’s mandate to rule.

We give our votes to who we think will do a good job of running the country — serving the people, and not ruling like the old kings. You have been entrusted by the people to do a job, and how do you repay that trust? Mostly by stealing the people blind, making a mockery of our democracy.

Being elected to the House or landing a position in the cabinet is not meant to be a license to steal, to take expensive so-called study tours, to push your own agenda and go completely against even the title of the office you hold, like our minister of religious affairs, who is seemingly promoting an Islamist agenda. How is that possibly congruent with having the position that is supposed to represent all religions in Indonesia equally? Or does he really think he is supposed to be doing some kind of proportional representation?

Since 90 percent of the people are Muslim, they get 90 percent of the consideration? Mr. Minister, let me tell you that it should be the other way around. When there are minorities among the people you are supposed to represent, they are the ones you are supposed to protect. The majority are fine.

There are some shining examples of brave and honest people in today’s political landscape. If everyone had the backbone and integrity of Mahfud M.D, the chief justice of the Constitutional Court, Indonesia would be a much better place. Unfortunately, leaders like this seem few and far between here. We can only hope that Indonesia lasts long enough for a new, hopefully better generation of politicians to take the reins. I have little hope for the lot that are in there now.