Even 20 years after the fall of Soeharto’s notoriously corrupt New Order regime, the Indonesian government and institutions still largely remains entrenched in an endemic culture of corruption. Despite major victories by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in recent years, graft remains a serious problem at every level of the government.
A big part of Indonesia’s culture of corruption is that, even for those who want to do the right thing and report wrongdoings, the risks can be enormous. Whistleblowers can easily become targets, not just of criminal intimidation but also legal persecution through, for example, the country’s loosely worded defamation laws. And, obviously, reporting on corruption means the whistleblower cannot financially benefit from the scheme and could further face severe costs in terms of retaliation.
But the administration of President Joko Widodo, which has mostly gotten good marks for fighting corruption (generally speaking), recently passed a new regulation that could help incentivize way more whistleblowing through the prospect of monetary reward.
The regulation — PP 43/2018 concerning the procedures for implementing community participation and awarding in the prevention and eradication of criminal acts of corruption — says that individuals or communities that provide information to law enforcement officials regarding allegations of corruption can receive an award in the form of a commendation and a reward of up to IDR 200 million (US$13,120).
The regulation calculates the award as 2% of the amount of money lost that can be recovered by the state. It also rewards those who report corruption in the form of bribery, with the whistleblower receiving 2% of the bribe amount up to IDR 10 million.
The regulation was signed by President Joko Widodo in September and is now in effect under the Ministry of Law and Human Rights.
PP 43/2018 does require whistleblowers undergo an assessment by law enforcers before receiving any reward. If their report leads to a corruption conviction, law enforcers have 30 days to make their assessment based upon factors such as the whistleblower’s role in exposing the corruption, the quality of their report’s data or evidence and the risk they faced in sharing their information.
Perhaps even more importantly, the regulation provides additional legal protection for whistleblowers who come forward with true, useful information, requiring law enforcers to coordinate their cases with the Witness and Victim Protection Agency.
Many anti-corruption activists and analysts argue that Indonesia’s laws protecting whistleblowers have been too weak and do little to alleviate the immense risks that they face. We’ll just have to wait and see if these additional protections, as well as the cash incentive, will be enough to get more of Indonesia’s whistleblowers to come forward.
KPK spokesperson Febri Diansyah said the anti-corruption body appreciated the regulation, though expressed some hesitations regarding how it will be enforced and the small relative size of the reward.
“We will look to see how it is implemented first. But, if the goal is to increase the compensation to whistleblowers, it needs to be seen as a positive thing, first and foremost,” Febri said as quoted by Kompas.