Trash-scavenging policeman to be honoured for refusing bribes after 40 years

A member of Indonesia’s notoriously corrupt police is to be honoured for refusing to accept bribes during his 40-year career, instead scavenging garbage to supplement his meagre salary, an official said on Thursday (June 30).

While many countries give awards for police bravery, Indonesian authorities have decided to honour policeman Seladi, 57, after he became a media sensation when the story of his determination not to accept kickbacks emerged.

The police in Indonesia are considered one of the country’s most graft-ridden institutions. They are accused of regularly extorting bribes from the public, being involved in the drugs trade, and have been embroiled in numerous high-profile corruption cases.

But father-of-three Seladi insists he always refused bribes despite earning only the equivalent of about US$400 a month and facing much temptation, as he worked in the department that issued driving licences in the city of Malang, on Java island.

“In the driving licence department, there is a lot of temptation,” he told AFP.

“Many people want to give me money or gifts so they can pass their driving test. But I always refused – my parents taught me not to take bribes.”

He was unable to afford his own house, meaning he had to live with his wife and children at the home of his parents-in-law.

In 2004, Seladi began scavenging from garbage dumps to top up his state income, earning on average an extra US$5 a day, mostly by selling on recyclable items.

East Java province police spokesman Argo Yuwono said Seladi would be honoured at a ceremony on Indonesia’s national police day on Friday for not accepting bribes, and for his dedication in supporting his family by doing extra work.

The spokesman did not say what exactly Seladi would receive.

Indonesia was ranked 88th out of 168 countries and territories in NGO Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index last year. A number one ranking represents the least corrupt.


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