It is a good thing that I can touch type! Otherwise, I might not see the keyboard through the tears of laughter. This post is probably not an "only in Indonesia" one, but the supposed parliamentarians housed at the House of Representatives in Jakarta just do it with so much ease that it might as well be!
The latest in a long line of laughing stock moments is the Nudirman Munir of Golkar fame and a member of the DPR. It would seem that the DPR Ethics Council, of which Nudirman is Deputy Chairperson, has decided that it needs to take a comparative study tour to Greece in order to study the ethics of Ancient Rome. Nah, bugger me, but the last time I looked Rome ancient or otherwise would have found itself located in modern day Italy. In fact, the erstwhile members of the DPR ethics council would need to be undertaking a comparative study within a comparative study tour to get from Greece to Italy to do what it is that the trip, otherwise known as a junket, is supposed to let them learn.
But, the best part of the whole thing is that Nudirman rationalises the trip as needed in order to answer the very important questions of how parliamentarians can leave the chamber during sessions, whether the ethics council can dismiss parliamentarians, whether parliamentarians are permitted to smoke (presumably in the chamber during sessions), and views on the death penalty.
The last one is a hoot because this was justified as the members of the DPR Ethics Council needing to get first hand views on this as they have traditionally been fooled by do-gooder NGOs who pulled the wool over the ethics council's eyes. Yes, the tears are streaming down my cheeks now.
Yet, the icing on the cake despite all of those individually humorous moments above is that the "real" reason that the members need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of public money is that the information they hope to glean from going there in person cannot be found on the internet. My guess is that Nudirman needs to hire some better researchers or ask around. He might just find that he does not have to even leave Jakarta, let alone Indonesia, in order to find an expert that can fill him in on all that he doesn't currently know.
Now for the not so funny. During the period from 2004 through 2009, the DPR found time to take some 143 all-expenses paid comparative study tours from the public purse. Each of these 'tours' is supposed to generate a written report detailing the knowledge gained. The grand return from 143 tours is 3 reports. Yes, readers, that is three, 3, tiga reports. Of these three reports one of them is a one-page itinerary. Now, the data comes from some good friends of mine at PSHK (Center for Indonesian Law and Policy Studies or Pusat Studi Hukum dan Kebijakan). If you want to know more about these things then feel free to contact them.
If I was Nudirman, I would be hoping that I stayed high on the Golkar ticket because I almost certainly would not want to have to return to the real world and get a real job that did not involve the inexcusable and almost unaccountable waste of public funds on useless study trips.
But, while you're there Nudirman please don't forget the oleh-oleh! And, a photo standing in front of Big Ben as I am pretty sure that is not available on the internet.