The results of two recent surveys reveal a strange contradiction in the attitude of Indonesians towards corruption, with a CSIS poll showing from 2016 showing that a majority of Indonesians thought that corruption in the country was getting worse while the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer survey that Indonesians had an unusually high level of trust in the government, especially compared to other countries with far less perceived corruption.
It might be a mistake in the methodology of one of the surveys, but it might also be because Indonesians have lost sense of how truly damaging the corruption that exists still is. Unlike the Soeharto era, when corruption, like the government, was more highly centralized and predictable, corruption in Indonesia might now feel omnipresent but not oppressive as it is spread out amongst regional leaders and civil servants.
Which is why it’s important for watchdog organizations like Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) to track the country’s multitudinous corruption cases and estimate just how much they are costing Indonesia.
According to ICW’s latest study, the state suffered more than Rp 3 trillion in losses (US$244 million) from corruption cases throughout 2016.
A big part of the problem with tackling corruption in Indonesia is that the benefits so often outweigh the risks and even corruptors who are found guilty often end up paying fines worth a tiny percentage of what they stole (and having to do hard time in luxurious revolving door jails).
Aradila Caesar of ICW’s Law and Justice Monitoring division told Tempo that the fines on those found guilty in corruption cases in 2016 only totaled a mere Rp 60.66 billion and that the amount recovered by the state was Rp 720.269 billion. Those numbers are significant decreases from previous years.
ICW says that the systems of punishment currently in place in Indonesia simply do not provide enough deterrent effect and that major criminal and penitentiary reforms will be needed to prevent the country’s from becoming mired in corruption once again.