The Lack of Money is the Root of all Evil (Mark Twain) The International Anti-Corruption Day and the Party Funding in Southeast Asia

Partyforumseasia: Ahead of the International Anti-Corruption Day on 9th December, President Jokowi met with chairman Agus Rahardjo and commissioners of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). According to an article in the Jakarta Post on 5th December, the President supports the Commission’s efforts on party reform, because the party funding is considered the Achilles’ heel of Indonesia’s fight against graft. Politicians and party members are involved in corruption cases more often than other professions, since 2007 “at least” 229 of them. The most prominent case was former Golkar chairman and speaker of parliament, Setya Novanto, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison earlier this year for “milking” a government budget  for electronic ID-cards on behalf of Golkar and other parties,  but also kept more than seven million  US$ for himself.
A survey conducted by Transparency International Indonesia (TII) in 2017 had listed the House of Representatives as the institution judged by Indonesians to be the most corrupt, followed by government officials and regional councillors. But the Indonesian politicians and parties are in numerous if not good company throughout the region.
Transparency International Malaysia has published a comparison of the perception of citizens how corrupt their politicians are in February 2017:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dilemma of the political parties has at least two major root causes. One is the lack of membership fees which are nominal or not existent, the lack of public funding, and the exorbitant costs of election campaigns inclusive of massive vote-buying. The other is the traditional expectations of the voters. Their ideal representative brings tons of money into the constituency, normally from development and infrastructure funds, and subsidizes all sorts of private events, from sports competitions and religious ceremonies to wedding parties. They don’t care that the money normally comes from a procedure called “pencaloan anggaran” or “budget scalping” at standard rates between 10 and 40 %. Every politician who wants to be elected or re-elected has little choice apart from being corrupt, unless he is a tycoon and sacrifices part of his money as an initial investment – to be recouped later, of course.
As long as this mismatch exists, the KPK will have difficulties to initiate real change and will be attacked by the forces that prefer the existing system for personal gain. The open debate and the support of President Jokowi are nevertheless an indication that the democratic development of Indonesia is progressing.

For a regional comparative study of the problem see:

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