Survey Lays Waste to Indonesia’s Fight Against Corruption

By Jakarta Globe 11 July 2013

A new survey of attitudes toward graft indicates Indonesia is losing the fight, with 71 percent of people believing corruption is more common than in 2011 and trust in the state’s political parties, legislature, civil service, judiciary and police force almost entirely absent.

Transparency International, a non-governmental organization that monitors corruption around the world, released its biennial “Global Corruption Barometer” report on Tuesday. The organization surveyed over 114,000 people in 107 countries in what it referred to as “the biggest-ever survey tracking world-wide public opinion on corruption,”

When asked “over the past two years, how has the level of corruption in this country changed?” 54 percent of Indonesians surveyed said it had “increased a lot” — up from 43 percent in 2010/11 — while 17 percent said it had “increased a little.”

With 71 percent of people believing graft was on the rise, Indonesia did not fare well compared to other countries. In Afghanistan, 40 percent of those polled believed the situation was worsening, while the figure in Egypt was 64 percent, Libya 48 percent, Russia 50 percent and South Sudan 38 percent.

The survey indicated that the Indonesian public have close to zero faith in the country’s key institutions.

Some 91 percent of people said the police force was “corrupt” or “extremely corrupt.”

When compared with other countries, Indonesia’s weighted average for perceptions of trust in the police was on a par with Bolivia, Egypt, Jamaica, Russia and Zimbabwe.

Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Malawi, Mexico, Nigeria and Yemen had worse views of their police forces.

Other branches of the state did not fare much better.

Some 86 percent said the country’s political parties were corrupt — compared with 89 percent for the legislature, 86 percent for the judiciary and 79 percent for the civil service.

Almost 50 percent of people thought health providers were either corrupt or extremely corrupt, while the media was regarded as a rose among thorns: only 19 percent of Indonesians surveyed believed the Fourth Estate was crooked.

Another part of the data set that may be of cause for concern at the Presidential Palace was that 68 percent of people found the government had been ineffective in taming corruption.

The police did not appear to put up a fight against the contents of the study.

“If that’s what the survey said, we apologize,” National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronny F. Sompie said on Wednesday. “The National Police is ready to improve itself, so all of our flaws and mistakes can be fixed. We also hope the survey founders give us recommendations and hints about which department the National Police needs to fix.”

Ronny emphasized that the National Police had more than 400,000 personnel across the country.

“We have a lot of members,” he said. “Therefore, we have to be the bigger person and listen to all input in order to make our institution better. Let’s work on it together.”

From the high-profile driving simulator graft case involving Gen. Djoko Susilo, the former head of the police’s traffic division, to the low-ranking Papua Police officer who was tied to a Rp 1.5 trillion fuel-smuggling and illegal-logging ring, Indonesia’s police force is no stranger to bad headlines.

Febri Diansyah, researcher with Indonesia Corruption Watch, said the public perception toward the police was getting worse because of their resistance to external efforts to tackle corruption within the institution, as displayed during their pitched battle with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) last year in connection with the driving-simulator graft case.

“That’s what has further tainted the police image: their resistance,” Febri told the Jakarta Globe. “The police’s resistance to the KPK’s probe into the case made it sound like there was a competition [between police and KPK], when the case should have been handled by the KPK.”

In a separate study, TI ranked Indonesia 118th out of 176 countries polled in its 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index, down from 100th out of 183 the year before.

Febri said that the increased coverage of high-profile graft cases may have contributed to a collective sense among the Indonesian public that graft was worsening.

“That’s because in spite of those big cases, there have also been stronger counter attacks against the KPK from those who oppose it,” he said.

Despite near unanimity that the branches of the state were bent, the respondents did not feel disenfranchised. Some 81 percent of those surveyed believed that “ordinary people” could make a difference in the fight against corruption and 41 percent said they would join a protest.