President Joko Widodo was voted into office in 2014 largely based on promises that he would be a dedicated reformist who would clean up the corruption endemic to Indonesian bureaucracy. In his first two years as president, many anti-corruption activists have been disappointed with Jokowi’s lack of movement on that front and his weak support for the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), but in the past few weeks the president has made a very public commitment to stamping out bureaucratic corruption – particularly the levying of illegal fines and bribes for government services.
The practice of pungli (short for pungutan liar or “illegal payments”) is the target of the new Saber Pungli Cleansweep taskforce, signed into law via presidential decree last Friday. The decree gives the taskforce a legal umbrella to gather intelligence, investigate and prevent pungli, and even gives them the power to arrest officials unilaterally.
An important part of the Saber Pungli program is that it allows members of the public to be able report corrupt officials confidentially through a website, hotline or even SMS.
“If you see or experience extortion, report directly to the website: www.saberpungli.id, SMS to 1193 or call the call center 193. The identity of the complainant will be kept confidential.”
A few weeks ago, Jokowi was present for the arrest of several high ranking civil servants at the transportation ministry accused of levying illegal fees for licensing requests. Visibly angry, the president said that such bureaucratic corruption must not be allowed to exist if Indonesian is to become a modern, economically competitive country.