House, parties 'most corrupt'

M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post/Jakarta

As if to confirm public indignation towards corrupt politicians, a report from an international corruption watchdog said Thursday that the House of Representatives (DPR) and political parties were the most corrupt institutions in the country.

In its corruption barometer report for 2004 issued Wednesday, Transparency International Indonesia (TI Indonesia) said that the House and political parties ranked first in the corruption index, followed by the customs and excise office, the judiciary, the police and the tax office.

The international graft watchdog said that the index of public perception of both the House and political parties was 4.4 out of a maximum 5 points, at which point an institution can be categorized as ""very corrupt"".

Indexes for the customs and excise office, the judiciary, police and tax office was 4.3, 4.2, 4.2 and 4 respectively.

In measuring the corruption index, TI Indonesia interviewed more than 1,200 people in Jakarta, Surabaya and Medan between July and September 2004.

In 2003, the judiciary was found by TI Indonesia to be the most corrupt institution with 32.8 percent of respondents saying the agency was corrupt, followed by political parties in second position with 16.3 percent.

Strangely, the 2004 survey claimed that the immigration office was perceived by Indonesians as being the least corrupt government agency with an index of 0.4.

According to TI Indonesia, an institution is declared free from corruption if the index is 1.

Other institutions that have low level of corruption are non-governmental organizations with an index of 2.4 and the media 2.6.

The Indonesian Military (TNI) was placed in the middle ranks with an index of 3.3, just above educational institutions with 3.2.

TI Indonesia's findings were parallel with the results of similar surveys conducted in 62 countries around the world.

""Of 62 countries surveyed, people in 36 countries drew the same conclusion that political parties were the most corrupt institutions,"" executive board chairman of TI Indonesia Todung Mulya Lubis told a press briefing.

Todung said that corruption in political parties was a grave threat to the country's political system as the parties were the institutions where members of the legislative and executive branch were recruited.

TI Indonesia secretary general Emmy Hafild said that corruption in the two institutions was manifested in several ways, including bribery from companies of House members who planned to scrutinize them on their dubious activities.

House members acted as brokers to help private companies get government contracts and received financial inducements when conducting ""fit and proper tests"" for public officers.

Emmy also said that political parties were also used by corruptors from the previous regime as safe havens from corruption litigation.

In its recommendation, TI Indonesia said that to prevent political parties and the House from becoming the new hallmarks of corruption in the country, greater accountability was required from both institutions.

""The law on general elections and political parties must be amended so as to require more rigid accountability of electoral candidates,"" TI Indonesia said.

As for the House, TI Indonesia said the recruitment process for those wanting to sit in the lawmaking institution must be made impregnable to money politics.

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