The tangled tale of corruption in various public sectors in Indonesia hampered the government to carry out the mandate of the 1945 Constitution, namely to meet every citizen’s basic rights and needs.

Corruption afflicts public goods and service, and administrative service. It is worsened by the rampant arrest of regional heads in corruption cases. The most recent one involved 41 members of the Malang Legislative Council, out of 45 suspects in a case handled by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

The connection between corruption and public service was presented by David Hall (2012), who said that corruption erodes public service and drains state budget by shifting it to the hands of corrupt political elites. A study on regional government’s corruption pattern by researchers of the University of Indonesia (2018) resulted in initial findings on the connection between the corruption pattern in 2010-2018 and the obstacles in public service.

Our initial research identified corruption patterns of regional government based on court ruling with permanent legal binding (inkracht) or in other legal processes: (1) corruption pattern related to licensing in mining, oil and gas, forestry, urban planning and land sectors; (2) corruption pattern related to the functions of the Regional Legislative Council (DPRD)--legislation, budgeting and monitoring over policy implementations; (3) corruption pattern related to goods and service procurement; (4) corruption pattern related to promotion, mutation and bribery for a position; and (5) corruption pattern related to Village Fund, which is the most recent pattern. Each pattern can be mapped into categories, sectors, involved actors, state losses, region and time, and how they hamper government in providing public service.

The knot of corruption in license issuance can be observed at mining sector that has strong relation in licensing decentralization policy. The first corruption case related to mining permit (IUP) holders that was raised by KPK involved Southeast Sulawesi Governor Nur Alam, who issued permits to PT Anugerah Harisma Barakah (PT AHB) on the approval of mining area designation, mining exploration permit, and exploration IUP upgrade into production operation IUP.

The case inflicted state losses of Rp4.3 trillion or at least Rp1.5 trillion if it was calculated with KPK’s new method of taking into consideration the environmental damage in the mining location of PT AHB in Kabaena Island. 

Another sector that is prone to corruption is forestry, with the mode of bribery through recommendation of forest area swap, revision submission of forest conversion into non-forest area, assessment and ratification of Proposal of Timber Use from Forest Plantation

(IUPHHK-HT), and the process to apply for protected forest conversion. Essentially, the corruption patterns contribute to deforestation.

In urban planning and land sector, corruption is rampant in the process to obtain land cultivation permit (HGU) and spatial use permit (SPPR). The pattern is more systematic when in connection with members of Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) through bribery. It occurs in the deliberations of bylaw draft and revision, Regional Budget and revision, as well as government accountability report; the refusal over the use of interpellation right by DPRD, and the monitoring process over regional government.

The latest mode of corruption is rampant bribery related to job promotion and mutation, as seen in the case involving Regents of Jombang, Nganjuk and Klaten, and Tegal Mayor. The case of Village Fund embezzlement in Pamekasan Regency was interesting as it raised a new actor in corruption case, namely village head. Corruption in procurement sector remains the most general and frequent practice.

The field research conducted in Jombang Regency, Mojokerto City and East Java Province showed corruption pattern was consistent with results of the analysis over corruption cases with permanent legal status (inkracht). It has been proven with the frequent sting operations that arrest public officials in the areas.

Based on the interview with various sources, high political cost seems to be a main factor driving public officials to corruption. They have to carry the operational cost, contribute the party and even bow to constituent’s demands to ‘donate’ to get their vote. It led to collusion between public officials in executive and legislative bodies to manipulate local government’s budget (APBD) for their political interest. If the situation persists, elected public officials would be those with the capability to raise fund for themselves or their close relatives. Preferred elected officials are those with transactional characteristic rather than having the vision to bring transformative change, as identified by James Burns (2010). At the end of the day, the government must ensure the establishment of a political environment that gives incentive to figures with competence, good vision and integrity to become public officials, to bring transformative change in the local government and optimize public service.

Lecturers of Public Administration at the Faculty of Administrative Science, University of Indonesia

Dr Vishnu Juwono and Dr Ima Mayasari