Champion the four pillars of corruption eradication

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Natalius Pigai
Minister of Labor and Transportation Special Staff, Researcher and former Structural Official in the Ministry of Labor and Transportation of RI, 1999-2012

IO – President Jokowi’s “victory address” in Sentul on 14 July 2019 neglected to mention the issue of corruption eradication. He did however state that building a clean and dignified Government would be a permanent policy objective. Why is that? Because corruption is in fact an evil no human community in the world (hostis humanis generis) approves of. Therefore, those who engage in corrupt practices must be subject to social sanctions as well as legal punishment. The sad truth is that Indonesia is twisted into a knot of corruption that has become an integral part of its culture over centuries. This is in fact the single biggest problem suffered by our people. Since 2002, the Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi – “KPK”) has been working hard to uncover, suppress and prosecute corruption, through strict monitoring, prevention, and enforcement of relevant laws. However, we must be aware that corruption has been expedited in a well-planned, structured, and massive manner because both executive and administrative procedures are set up to allow it. 

Corruption is more than a reflection of an individual’s mental and moral character. It is also a social pathology that erodes the strength of elementary values, such as honesty and integrity, among the people. I thus appreciate KPK’s various efforts to control poverty, unemployment, foolishness, and delay and slowing down of our people and nation’s progress, the results of leaks in national budgeting. 

In the future, the building of the awareness for living cleanly and establishing a dignified Government should not simply be the burden of law enforcement officers, but must become an integral element of all components of the nation. A strategic partnership between KPK and Government agencies, linked with alert elements of civil society is an urgent need, to develop awareness of the dangers of corruption. A strategic partnership with law enforcement agencies should also be established in the effort to eradicate the crime of corruption. 

It is naturally not an easy matter to strengthen the workings of corruption eradication agencies such as KPK. Such an effort will naturally demand new and advanced strategies and tactics. It is time for KPK to state the obstacles it faces, upgrade its activity and solidify more progressive and comprehensive policies. KPK will thus need to highlight these following four primary aspects: 

1. Human Resources (Morality and Capability) 

a) KPK must deliberately, systematically, and thoroughly build horizontal and vertical awareness among Government bodies, such as the State Civil Apparatus (Aparat Sipil Negara – “ASN”), as well as the citizenry of Indonesia. KPK must instill the idea among all elements of the nation that corruption is a truly-abhorred crime, because it has similar and equal impact as narcotics and crimes against humanity. This would make people afraid to give in to temptation. 

b) Capacity building; Knowledge, Skills, and Attitude (Mentality and Morality) of law enforcement officers who have to deal with corruption issues. The most important aspect of such capacity-building is to fortify attitudes, so that law enforcement officers can handle cases professionally, objectively, and in a balanced and fair manner. 

2. Regulations and Procedures 

To probe, uncover and shut down the gates and channels for corruption, whether in terms of regulations, technical and operational aspects, and the nomenclature and governance, both at Government (State) and private (non-State) levels. Corruption is not just caused by bad individual mentality and attitude, but also because there are too many loopholes in Government that enable corrupt practices. The effort to prevent corruption must start from taking a thorough look at legislation – laws, Government regulations, and the decrees of the head of Government agencies, whether vertical or horizontal. In this context, Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson’s Fall of Nations clearly state that: “A nation fails not because of differences in infrastructure, but because a group of oligarchic, economic, and political elite control most of available wealth, and political and legal judgments are made only to strengthen the oligarchs’ efforts to accumulate wealth.” 

The serious issue in this context is that most of the laws passed during the “New Order” era were specifically intended to strengthen the political and economic powers of the rulers. However, during the changes instituted in the Reform period, the Government did not sufficiently amend these regulations. For the sake of preventing corruption, KPK encourages the Government to seriously consider doing so. 

3. Progressive Law Enforcement 

Law enforcement should be professional, objective, impartial, honest, and fair. The criminal justice system must also consider any trade of influence by any State official as corruption – as a crime. The idea of law enforcement in the trading in influence is a more progressive concept on corruption law enforcement. Trading in influence that benefits a person, their business partner, or their group is corrupt behavior that deviates from ethics and morality. Such trades performed by an official, their family or friends as the perpetrator of such crimes are frequently found in third-world countries with authoritarian, corrupt, or impoverished governments. 

Trading of influence is an act of corruption that has grown and spread greatly across Indonesia. However, until now the Government still has not implemented the trading in influence in Corruption Crime Law, even though this Law was enacted in 1999 and underwent limited revision in 2001. When Indonesia ratified UNCAC in 2003 and thereafter, the Government should have made adjustments to incorporate it by making limited revision in the Corruption Crime Law – i.e. by including trading in influence as a crime with a clearly-defined scope. 

4. Comprehensive Building of KPK’s Capacity as an Institution 

In the future, KPK will need to build its institutional capacity. It must establish a modern, rational management system that is able to respond to all demands of the people’s awareness, clean bureaucracy, and massive eradication of corruption. KPK must establish the following five pillars for building its institutional capacity: 

1) The nomenclature of KPK’s organizational structure and organization. This should be able to serve KPK’s two primary functions, i.e., the prevention and eradication of corruption, and the supporting system for this purpose. 

2) A clear and professional work system. Such a protocol could regulate administrative organization procedures (Leadership, Deputies, Investigators, and Secretariat) and executive organization (Commissioner, Secretary and Staff, Substantial Executing Structural Officials, and Functionaries). 

3) Upgrade available structures and facilities into sufficiently modern levels. 

4) Upgrade human resources, whether in terms of knowledge, skills, or mental and moral attitude. 

5. Increase KPK budget significantly. 

The importance of strengthening KPK’s institutional capacity is to make sure that it does not fall due to weak management when it faces problems. KPK is in fact the bogeyman of corrupt officials and entrepreneurs. This is why there is a risk of attempts of penetration from various external components, whether the Government, Legislative, law enforcement officers, bureaucrats, entrepreneurs or others that are in trouble with the law. 

I suggest that for the upcoming period, KPK should be strengthened and revitalized in terms of these five aspects: 1) policy targeting of human resources, whether law enforcement officers or ASN; 2) building up anti-corruption awareness; 3) reorganizing and strengthening regulations and governance; 4) encouraging the inclusion of trading of influence as a legal crime; and 5) strengthening KPK’s institutional capacity.