Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Defending Indonesia's Corruption Record

A while back, I was lying in a hotel room in Bandung. BBC World business report was on in the background, when on came an Indonesian government representative.

Immediately I sat up. I am like that, being an Indonesia geek.

This Indonesian guy was promoting business in Indonesia.

Niceties over, the interviewer clobbered the Indonesian guy, with something like,

"Indonesia recently scored near bottom of transparency international's corruption index. That won't give international firms confidence in investing in Indonesia, will it?"

The guy floundered.

"We're improving yada yada yada"

"Doesn't look that way to me"

Needless to say it did not sound at all convincing.

Not that I like defending Indonesia's transparency international corruption ranking, but you could go about it as follows.

Transparency International reports on people's perceptions of corruption. Is it any wonder that Indonesians are more keenly aware of wrongs when they are reported on everyday in a mostly free manner. Indonesia has a problem, but at least its people are keenly aware of it, unlike many other places with lobotomised media (Singapore's Straits Times, anyone?).

It's a bit like Alcoholics Anonymous, you gotta be aware your problem before you can overcome it.

Countries with freer media will ironically tend to have worse Transparency International Corruption ranks.


Susi Johnston said...

I think that's a valid point.

Freedom of expression in Indonesia, since the Habibie regime, has been a great step forward, and it was done very boldly and fast. We have to salute that.

Freedom of expression, so far, has been maintained well and defended fairly well here. That's a really positive sign.

tere616 said...

I always skeptic everytime I heard about corruption in Indonesia.

Not because I don't trust the government, it's mainly because corruption is not just about "money" anymore. People look at it as a "habit", its a 'tradition'.

Corruption in Indonesia is the same like Mafia in Italy.

Well, maybe someday, in my grand children lives, corruption is not a common thing anymore :-(

johnorford said...

hey susi, thx for visiting!

tere, yeh i agree, corruption is part of the culture. but at the very least it's seen as a bad habit nowadays...