It is a little hard to know whether to laugh or cry when reading about the exploits of one Gayus Tambunan.
Gayus Tambunan is a mid-ranking tax official who was arrested for corruption relating to the extortion of trillions of Rupiah from a whole raft of Indonesian conglomerates where the Bakrie family figured prominently. The plan was that this young man would roll over and rat out all those that he had worked with in this elaborate scheme.
The outcome was to be the shining light of the President's, SBY, fight against corruption. Instead, it has been a complete farce that has seen Gayus, dubbed as Super Gayus by The Economist, take Indonesian law enforcement on a world-wide ride taking in sites such as Singapore, Thailand, Macau, and even some more local sites in Bali (including a trip to the Commonwealth Bank Cup Tennis Tournament).
The ever-reliable and most knowledgeable Treespotter has an interesting analysis, and an enjoyable read, over at his place. I would encourage people to read the Treespotter's take on this matter and a whole stack of others that he has blogged about, insightful.
The laughing and crying angles on this case relate purely to watching law enforcement and elected officials try and explain these shenanigans away by passing the buck. If there was ever a case of "pass the hot potato" this has to be it. What has become painfully clear to more and more Indonesians is that the battle that they are waging against corruption is far more difficult than they ever imagined that it might be. To say corruption is endemic is, in light of the Tambunan case, an understatement.
Yet, the case is exposing the people who most Indonesians are relying on to fight this battle as complete incompetents that perhaps should be facing charges themselves rather than holding down positions of authority and influence. At best some of these individuals need to be handing in their resignations en masse.
For example, the Minister for Law and Human Rights, Patrialis Akbar, in an attempt to make himself look good and to deflect any unwarranted attention from his Ministry decides that he must categorically deny that the possibility that Tambunan traveled overseas on a fake passport was possible.
After all it is the immigration department that would have had to have had a hand in issuing a fake passport and that is an area under his jurisdiction. Sadly, as the picture above shows, the man was able to get a second passport in a false name and was seemingly able to travel with ease to the places that the media is now claiming that he did.
I guess what is becoming most surprising to me now is why this story did not break some time ago. Let's face it, the biggest ace in SBY's "war on corruption" managed to spend less than a week in his cell over a four month period. How is that no-one noticed this until now? Perhaps this says something more important about the battle ahead. Perhaps it says something more important about the President and his minions that have been tasked with fighting this battle.
It seems that the President, his minions, and other law enforcement officials can only say so many times that "we don't have to worry Indonesians are too stupid to see through this" before the good citizens of Indonesia rise up en masse and say "hold on a second, we are not stupid, we will not tolerate incompetence any longer, we want change - change that we can not only believe in, but change that gives us real and tangible benefits". Indonesians are not stupid, but this will require Indonesians as a whole to take a long hard look at themselves and say "enough is enough!"
Indonesia really does deserve better than SBY!