July 26, 2010

Power And Money

This is a story of any developing country where the rich and powerful reign and the the people do not exercise or do not have their equal right.

I was surprised to see some street vendors trying to sell a photocopy version of an edition of Tempo news magazine (in Bahasa) . I did not understand what the vendor was saying but the news was allover in the media in the following days. It turned out that on 28th of June Tempo published a report on huge bank balances of certain high police officials and the cover showed a caricature of a policeman holding ropes tied around three pigs. The report titled "Fat Account Police Officers" analyzed central financial transaction reports and found that there are tens of billions of Indonesian Rupiah transferred from unspecified third parties in the accounts of at least seven high-ranking police officials.

The officers implicated in the article include Insp. Gen. Budi Gunawan, the head of internal affairs and a former adjutant to the president during the Megawati Soe-karnoputri administration; former Mobile Brigade chief Insp. Gen. Sylvanus Yulian Wenas and lecturer at the Police Leadership School Insp. Gen. Bambang Suparno and former National Police chief detective Comr. Gen. Susno Duadji.

What followed can be the plot of a thriller: the magazine publications were purchased outright by groups making the edition unreachable to readers and the police threatened to sue Tempo (which they dismissed later) on charges of disrespectfully making caricatures of them. The police interpreted the Tempo report as depicting the police force as animals especially swine, which is forbidden to Muslims. But people are cleverer than them - the photocopy editions were in circulation in the following weeks and Tempo decided to reprint the edition. Widespread protests followed and the president was under pressure to announce an investigation.

On 6th of July the corruptors divulged their power by throwing a number of Molotov Cocktails in Tempo office. The National police spokesman said that the attack was intended to shine a bad light on the police as if the staffs orchestrated the attack. Later in the month four 'Tempo" staffs were interrogated by the police as if they were the suspects. One staff received threat from a third party.

Not only that Tama Satrya Langkun of Indonesian Corruption Watch, who contributed to the report was brutally assaulted and stabbed.

According to public demand the police investigated into 23 suspicious bank accounts of police officers and only found 2 problematic accounts. Indonesian police also claimed that they have made progress in the investigation of the attack on Tempo magazine and the anti-corruption activist.

However people are calling for independent police probe to authenticate such claims. The president said there is no need to involve other organizations such as anti-corruption commission (KPK).

The conclusion of the story can be perceived by many. You can fill in the gap with your experience. Unless there are a radical upheaval of people asking for accountability, justice and equality, the rich and powerful will continue to do what they do and get away with their crimes.


  1. That's what they do, everywhere and always.  All that ordinary people can do is point out to them that we're not stupid, even if we can't stop them.