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#65032 - 14 Nov 07 16:02 JP/Equality before the law also applies in bribery
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Pujangga Besar

Registered: 24 Apr 08
Posts: 7508
Loc: Jakarta
Equality before the law also applies in bribery

Kornelius Purba, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A senior prosecutor must bribe his own colleagues with Rp 40 million (US$4,400) to get his son a job with the prosecutor's office? Where is their esprit de corps? Why aren't they satisfied just extorting ordinary people?

"You must remember that all people are equal before the law," my son said when I expressed my disbelief over the experience of his friend, a fresh graduate from a well-known law school.

According to my son, the principle of equality means everyone must pay a bribe in this country.

"His father accepts bribes from other people, so he must be given an equal chance to pay bribes," said my son.

But if a prosecutor must pay such a large bribe for his son, how about ordinary people? The bribe itself equals his salary as a civil servant for about four years.

I have my doubts about my son's story, but many friends have shared similar stories about people having to pay bribes to become civil servants, especially for the more lucrative posts.

My son recently sought my advice about his future, because he is about to graduate from law school.

Should he become a prosecutor, lawyer, judge or join the police? I think he thinks too much of himself (my wife says "like father like son"), because I know the kind of talented people required for these professions.

I also strongly believe that only the best -- even close to genius -- should be admitted because the state needs smart and honest young people to become true law enforcement warriors. I am not sure my son meets the criteria.

Prosecutors, lawyers, judges and the police are always described by international agencies, and by those here who have to deal with them, as the main source of legal uncertainty and the main factor behind the government's failure to combat corruption.

But because I want to be the best father possible for my son, I told him these professions were extremely promising by all means. All fathers want the best for their children, right?

We need to remember that not all law enforcers are corrupt. Quite a large number of them are honest people who work according to their oath to God not to abuse their power for any reason.

My wife always prays for her son to become a prosecutor, lawyer, judge or police officer. She says let God decide what is best for her beloved child. (I suspect she knows the four professions are equally lucrative, otherwise she would specifically mention her choice in her prayers.)

I myself do not have the courage to pray that my son can win his dream job without paying bribes. I am afraid of demanding too much of God, considering Indonesia's poor track record in corruption.

My son cited several family friends who have pursued careers as prosecutors. They are all rich, and to be honest I am very jealous of them. But according to him there is one thing he does not like about law enforcers. "They are always suspicious about other people and busy finding evidence to satisfy their paranoid needs."

Personally, I prefer my son to become a lawyer, a defender of the poor, protector of the powerless, the voiceless and the victims of those in power.

When he becomes a lawyer, he can be rich and even super-rich, but in a halal way. I believe only genius lawyers can help their clients win their cases in court. But many lawyers say it is a long road to that heaven.

"If you want your son to be a rich lawyer, he needs at least 10 years to be very, very active and prominent in NGOs, a human rights activist," said a lawyer, whose wife only recently stopped complaining about his low income.

Now this friend of mine has been hired by multinational corporations and rich businesspeople with problems. The lawyer mentioned several famous lawyers who were known as anti-government critics during the Soeharto regime. Many now serve as legal advisers to those they condemned as "people who suck the poor's blood".

My son, however, has his own ideas about being a lawyer. The wealth of a lawyer, according to him, is determined by his skill in bribing, not his skill in presenting legal arguments.

"You charge your client, then distribute the money to the police, prosecutors, judges. The rest then goes into your pocket," he said.

So my son needs at least 10 years to be rich? Does that mean I will have to subsidize him all this time, while deep in my heart I want him to support me as soon as possible?

How about a career as a judge? How much should we pay to get that position? Being a judge is an honorable career. In this country when the president enters a venue people are forced to rise. Judges get the same privilege. Sometimes my friends stand up when I enter my office, but only when they smell something unpleasant.

I contacted some friends who know about the world of judges. They described the same thing. "Do you think they are accepted or promoted as judges merely because of their merit? Don't be naive, at least not in Indonesia," said a friend who is familiar with this issue.

How about the police? It is possible for university graduates to join the police force and end up as mere supporting staff, while the top positions are for officers who graduated from the Police Academy. This means my son would never realize his dream of being more successful and richer than me.

"But still you need to prepare a special fund," said a police officer friend when I told him about my son.

Perhaps to become a lawyer for the poor and victims of human rights abuses is the only way to escape the bribery obligation if my son insist on pursuing a career in the law enforcement field.

"But do you remember what happened to Munir?" my wife said, reminding our son of the human rights activist who was killed because of his choice of profession.

The writer can be reached at
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#65038 - 14 Nov 07 16:29 Re: JP/Equality before the law also applies in bribery [Re: KuKuKaChu]
Roy's Hair Offline
Pujangga Besar

Registered: 08 Nov 06
Posts: 3974
Loc: jakarta
Good old Purba. Keep pluggin' away son.
Chinese like more traditional patterns on their ring.


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