Friday, May 31, 2024 | 04:22 WIB

Whose smile went viral after handing over impounded learning tools


Gatot Sugeng Wibowo, Head of the Customs and Excise Main Office,

Jakarta, IO – Gatot Sugeng Wibowo, Head of the Customs and Excise Main Office at Soekarno-Hatta Airport, went viral on social media for his smile when handing over learning tools for Special Needs Schools (SLB) donated by South Korea, that had been held up in Customs and Excise for some two years. 

Unexpectedly, Dedeh Kurniasih, Acting Principal of SLB-A National Level Trainer, whose work was impeded by this learning tools hold-up, expressed her apology. “We apologize for our unawareness and lack of knowledge about the procedures for imported donated goods, which resulted in miscommunication. We also apologize for the recent hubbub in the media,” Dedeh said, as quoted from Kompas TV’s breaking news on Wednesday (May 1). 

“Hopefully, this (incident) can help us build a good relationship, because we might receive more donations from those who care about special needs students in Indonesia,” added Dedeh. 

The Directorate General of Customs and Excise of the Finance Ministry finally handed over braille keyboards to SLB-A National Level Trainer Jakarta, after the learning tools had been on hold since 2022. Unexpectedly, netizens focused on the Customs official who smiled while handing over the detained goods. 

Gatot Sugeng Wibowo seemed to smile proudly when handing over the shipment, and comments spread like wildfire on social media. 

“This is the picture of Customs and Excise that finally handed over the donation from South Korea for the SLB from Korea, which has been on hold since 2022. What’s interesting about this photo? What’s interesting is the always-consistent Indonesian culture: the shameless culture,” tweeted @kegblgnunfaedh at X (ex-Twitter), as quoted from 

The tweet continued, “Look at his smile, a proud smile. After keeping the donation for the SLB on hold, which is intended for children with special needs. He should be embarrassed instead of smiling like that.” 

After the photo and apology came under netizens’ spotlight, Yustinus Prastowo, Special Staff of the Finance Minister, who was also in the photo, came to the rescue. “Ms. Dedeh, the Principal of the SLB, made a spontaneous statement when given time to speak. What she really meant was when communicating with the consignment services company (PJT), and no solution seemed possible, they halted (the process). They did not continue (the process) because they were unaware (of the procedures). We had a long talk with the school representatives and the Education Office in the morning,” explained Yustinus. 

“The apology was more of an expression as she felt bad for all the fuss (in the media). After being informed of the procedures they could follow from the start, they then made that statement. We delivered the information as usual, and we both understood what happened,” wrote Yustinus on his personal X account. 

The SLB’s learning tools had been held up in the DHL warehouse since 2018. After discovering that the goods were donations, Customs and Excise declared that the goods were exempted from import duties and other taxes. 

Askolani, Director General of Customs and Excise at the Finance Ministry, stated that the hold-up occurred due to miscommunication. 

“Today, we affirmed that, according to government regulations, the import duty is exempted, which is a tremendous help. So, the SLB, the (Education) Office and the PJT admitted that they did not communicate well, resulting in inappropriate responses,” explained Askolani. 

Askolani added that when first arriving in Indonesia, the donated braille keyboards were initially reported as consignments by PJT DHL. Because of its status as shipped goods, Customs and Excise determined a tariff according to the regulation, which reached hundreds of millions of Rupiah. 

“We were not informed, and the goods came to us as a consignment. So, we imposed a tariff according to the mechanism set by the Government, hence the calculation,” Askolani explained. 

The SLB objected to the high tariff and stopped the process of obtaining the learning tools. Thus, since the end of 2022, the goods have been held up in the DHL warehouse with the status of Non-Controlled Goods (BTD) given by Customs. 

In 2023, the SLB tried to check the goods again with DHL. However, this information did not reach Customs and Excise. 

“(In) 2023, the goods were checked again with DHL to revise the address, documents and so on. However, the communication only reached the PJT. It didn’t reach our domain as Customs and Excise. We were only aware of the tariff for the shipped goods, but the documentation was only around the DHL people,” said Askolani. 

After the case went viral on social media, Customs and Excise discovered that the 20 braille keyboards came from donations. “We were informed in 2024 that they were donated goods. After we found out, we informed them we could exempt import duties or taxes for donated goods used for educational or social purposes, as stated in the Finance Ministerial Regulation,” he explained. 

If Customs and Excise had been informed from the beginning that the imported goods were donations, it would have offered some solutions so that the goods could be quickly received. Customs and Excise immediately coordinated with the Jakarta Education Office, and the 20 keyboards were declared donations and exempted from import duty. 

Gatot Sugeng Wibowo, whose smile went viral after the learning tools handover, became known to the public after he successfully prevented cocaine smuggling by a man from Brazil. It took two narcotic tests and an incineration method before Gatot successfully solved this case. 

Read: Fantastic experiencein IBL All-Star 2024

Gatot grew up in his hometown in Nganjuk, East Java. After graduating from senior high school, he left his hometown to pursue higher education. 

“I was born and raised in Nganjuk, East Java, where I had my primary to secondary education,” said Gatot when interviewed him on Mar 16, 2023. 

In 1988, Gatot continued to take a Diploma III in Customs and Excise at the Polytechnic of State Finance (STAN) in Jurangmangu, South Tangerang. 

After he graduated from STAN in 1991, Gatot was stationed at the Palembang Customs and Excise Office in 1993. In 1998, he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Economics at Jambi University and a Master’s in Human Resources Management at the LPMI College of Management Science in 2005. (rp)


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