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The duel between Crocs and Geckos took place in Indonesia and has received a wide media coverage as well as attract public opinions.

Crocs (nope, not the ugly looking slippers) symbolizes the police (along with its prosecution capacities) and Geckos symbolizes the anti-corruption citizens. The people, nearly unanimously said “down with the Crocs”!

Stopping corruption is the people’s best interest.

The reason behind this popular duel, which expert called the biggest show of People Power since ’98:  The people are fed up being chained to the wall, powerless seeing how the country they love plagued by corruption which resulted into being viewed negatively by the international world.

The people want graft fighters to continue their work. Photo by Flickr user Ivanatm

Corruption is the rust to Indonesia’s economic wheel.

Why this matters? Corruption is, in a matter of fact, a real-life fact in every country in Asia — on record and off, right?

There was a popular 70s pop song by a group called Koes Plus (Indonesian version of retro the Jonas Brothers) that goes:

(We have) Not (mere) oceans, but milk ponds
(fish) Hooks and nets are enough for you to feed yourself
Without typhoon, without storm shrimps and fishes would come to you

Ok, so they exaggerated a bit about the suicidal sea creatures.

Indonesia is undoubtedly a resource-rich country, but decades, or perhaps even centuries (I need to check with our historian) of corruption caused people life they deserved and life of generations after them.

Sure former president Soeharto is a paramount example of corruptors, but even today, there’s a little corruptor within nearly all of the population. I know it’s a sad fact, but Soeharto may died, but his legacy lives on.

For the Indonesians, corruption IS a vicious cycle — its way or the highway. Public servant jobs are often known as a fertile ground for corruption, collution and nepotism seed. Red tape is the door to this thing that people hate but have no choice but do, because otherwise: “my son’s birth certificate will be printed by the time he’s 2 year-old”, or “Without name dropping, no chance my boy could become diplomat in the future”. You want you paper to be in order? Than you better prepare some uang rokok (cigarette money), uang pelicin (smear money) or amplop (envelope).

I remember growing up hearing other kids saying, “I want to grow up to be a doctor” or “I want to be a policeman or army general one day”, because their mom said those two are high paying jobs. Yeah, tell that to a 5-year old, they will take it as a life mission to please their moms.  Lawyers, police, ministers, diplomat — excellent. Doctors and the like, employee, architect –good. Nurse, translator — okay, but there are better paying jobs out there. Marrying Kermit the Frog — someone has been putting the delusional blankie these past years…  Like it or not most, it is widely known that parents often steer their kids and make them consider big income as their aspirations. When their future arrives, we all know what happen.. A society that jails graft fighters, prosecutes a mother of two toddlers for complaining because the hospital where she seek treatment gave her a lousy service, and sentencing a woman in her 50s to house arrest for picking 3 cacao fruit from a privately owned plantation.

James Van Zorge, on Jakarta Globe said:

If Indonesians want to be more successful in making real progress in the fight against corruption, there are two things they should do. First, everybody needs to stop making excuses. And second, there needs to be more thought given to policies that can bring some big, quick wins.

[…] There is, however, another solution: Cut in half the number of government regulations.

Corruption IS NOT, contrary to popular believe, a home grown culture. It is a trick-of-trade  brought by Indonesia’s former colonist. Sadly, decades after the independence the trick of trade is nationalized all together with the  colonist’s assets.

I (think) first learned about StAR initiative in 2008, while working in Bali as an assistant journalist. StAR named Soeharto the world’s biggest kleptocrat (and longest running head of state compared to others on the list) with $15-35 billion stolen between 1967-98.  Fellow Indonesian blogger patung, blogged about StAR in 2007.

After StAR’s report what has happened? Well aside from Suharto being pardoned by our government due to his declining health (which lead to his passing), not much.

The people still haven’t seen the money being transferred back to the state coffer.  The Soeharto clan receive less media coverage but still filthy rich. Soeharto’s favorite child got back the access to his $61 .7 M which previously frozen in Guernsey due to embezzlement accusation. Time Asia wrote a great piece about the former First Clan back in 1999, and nobody has written better piece after the death of the patriach.

Me, like most of my fellow Indonesians would say that we hope from the best from our government. Politicians’ promises made us hold our breath for so long– too long. Now, we’re in desperate need of the new air, a fresh one.

With Crocs vs. Geckos still going on, change could hardly happen anytime soon, but the good news is the Geckos don’t just stick on the wall and wait around this time. They’re on the street, on Facebook, Twitter, on badges that stuck on bags and collars, on school curriculum. Anti-Corruption awareness is now available online and off. The question is: Will grown ups live up the things they preached to their children?

If they do, then there’s hope that one day Indonesia will stop being a Reservoir Crocs. Heavenly Father help us all, or like most of my fellow Indonesians would say, insya Allah. 🙂

Indonesia is in fact a resource-rich country, but decades, or perhaps even centuries (I need to check with our historian) of corruption caused people life they deserved and life of generations after them.

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