GT Man’s Verdict and the world of Spin Doctors

There’s a new nickname for the infamous Gayus Tambunan: GT Man. The analogy is given to compare him with a man’s underwear; you really don’t want to show it in public and sometimes it gets uncomfortable when it’s stuck between your buttocks.

It gets really uncomfortable because of the recent verdict from his corruption trial that he gets “only” 7 years in prison and “only” 300 million rupiah for fines. The amount of money that he took? More than that, obviously – which according to one estimate, over 700 million rupiah.

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There’s a new nickname for the infamous Gayus Tambunan: GT Man. The analogy is given to compare him with a man’s underwear; you really don’t want to show it in public and sometimes it gets uncomfortable when it’s stuck between your buttocks.

It gets really uncomfortable because of the recent verdict from his corruption trial that he gets “only” 7 years in prison and “only” 300 million rupiah for fines. The amount of money that he took? More than that, obviously – which according to one estimate, over 700 million rupiah.

It’s no surprise the public was outraged. Their sense of justice torn. Moreover, it was a punch in the face for SBY and his judicial task force, as Gayus lashed back at one of its members, allegedly saying that Denny Indrayana forcedly extorted information from his wife. Then Gayus brought up the CIA (yes, blame America for everything), followed by the media that played the classic “he said, she said” game of words and leaves the public in a state of rage and confusion, even more compared to the situation before this whole verdict came out.

Now here’s a pragmatic view: I don’t care whether Gayus gets 7 or 20 years in prison, but the important matter is that the state should get its money back from his acts of corruption. Nobody can accurately measure how fair or how justice is gained by sending a guy who stole millions and billions of the people’s money to prison without getting the money back. To be honest, won’t the people be paying him as he gets treatment in jail (not to mention the facilities he can have, considering how flawed the system is)?

I fear that we were sidetracked by Gayus’ Houdini acts disappearing to Singapore, KL, Macau, along with his infamous wig, and ultimately forgot to question the legal side of the whole case, beyond the political hoohah. Did the prosecutors team included a demand for confiscating his assets, so that the state can recover its losses? Apparently not.

When would the government learn that asset recovery from corruption cases should be put in as a forefront of the punishment, rather than jailing the culprit? How many billions of rupiah have the government lost from its corruption cases, and how much did we manage to get in return? Does anybody in the government asks these questions, let alone those in our dear members of parliament?

Corruption now has gone into a world of political rhetorics, whereby everyone seems to scramble to do something, but to no avail. In a world of spin doctors, as Indonesian citizens witness the bashing between the villain and the hero, but everything gets lost in translation because we don’t know which one is right or wrong anymore. Sadly, I’ve also heard cases where they put innocent people in jail for corruption due to political motives. Unclear regulations provide this loophole and makes bureaucracy inefficient.

So who can you trust? The police? The judges? Even the Corruption Eradication Commission? You can’t trust them completely because transparency is such an expensive commodity in Indonesia.

So my plea to SBY’s government is this: get your act together and put some concrete efforts in your corruption eradication efforts. Professor Klitgaard, who gave a talk in my school last year gave us five recipes to combat corruption:

  1. Improve structure, leadership and incentives
  2. Take a whole-government approach
  3. Involve business and the people
  4. Subvert corruption
  5. Emphasize morality

The question now is, do you dare to say that corruption is wrong? Or are you just going to stand there and do nothing about it?