Arientha Primanita, Robertus Wardi & Reuters
During a speech touching on nearly ever political talking point on Thursday, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono detailed the infiltration of Indonesia’s endemic corruption, and warned that graft threatens the nation’s economic growth.
“The drum of war on corruption should not dissipate. Corruption should be completely eradicated,” Yudhoyono said in a speech to parliament on Thursday in his most explicit comments yet on the scourge of the country’s potential — but a corruption watchdog analyst said the president failed to provide concrete examples of exactly how to win the war on graft.
Yudhoyono admitted that corruption has seeped into nearly every facet of the public sector, including employee recruitment and goods and services procurement, and said the methods range from simple bribery to complex money laundering schemes.
“I have to admit there are still many perpetrators of corruption even in the government, parliament, regional representatives and among law enforcers,” Yudhoyono said.
“In a blunt way, I want to say that there should be no conspiracies between the government, House of Representatives, law enforcers and business people that drain the state’s money from both the state budget (APBN) and the regional budget (APBD),” the president added.
Indonesia lost as much as Rp 2.13 trillion ($238.6 million) to corruption in 2011, according to Indonesia Corruption Watch. A 2011 study by ICW said that embezzlement, bogus projects and travel costs, misappropriations and markups were responsible for the extraordinary losses from public coffers.
Economists say the Indonesian government needs to spend more to overhaul infrastructure to drive long-term growth, though central government spending usually falls below target because of corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency.
Regarding investment, the president said the government must provide a safe legal environment for investors to promote economic growth, as well as remove hurdles to investment to promote infrastructure growth.
Yudhoyono also called for cooperation between the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), the Supreme Court, police and the Attorney General’s office in fighting corruption, though he was careful to commit himself to direct intervention.
“Intervention will only create a feeling of unfairness. Let the legal [institutions] work with their own mechanisms and method in finding justice.
“Combating corruption as an extraordinary thing should be done in an extraordinary way,” Yudhoyono added.
But one analyst said he was sceptical that the speech signalled any real stiffening of government resolve on corruption.
“This speech is normative because if you say such things you have to show concrete examples. The president mentions extraordinary action to face corruption, but there is no realization on the ground,” said Donal Fariz of ICW.