When reading the statement by Singapore’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday that said one of Indonesia’s most wanted fugitives, Nazaruddin, had left Singapore before the Corruption Eradication (KPK) declared him a suspect in a sports facility development project, I remembered a recent conversation with a chauvinistic friend.
The Singapore government’s statement was clearly a response to mounting condemnation from our political leaders and elites who without thinking made their own conclusion that Nazaruddin was now under Singapore’s protection.
Millions of Indonesians have accepted the government’s story that a major portion of Singapore’s wealth derives from Indonesia and that Singapore could not survive without Indonesia and that the city state provides red carpet welcomes to mega wealthy corrupt Indonesians as long as they bring their money with them.
Whose sense of nationalism will not be provoked by the reasons of members of the House of Representatives to ratify the two countries’ extradition treaty? The House would only ratify the agreement when Singapore agreed to separate it from another treaty of defense because they believed it would only provide a blank check for Singapore to occupy our land. For them Singapore would take all measures to ensure the free flow of illicit wealth to the island.
It would be like magic, they say: If Singapore stopped providing a safe haven for our criminals and robbers — many of whom have the official blessing of state officials — and immediately repatriated them to Indonesia, then our country would automatically no longer be on the list of the world’s most corrupt nations.
Let us go back to this long-bearded friend of mine. He is a devout Muslim and a staunch nationalist. A veteran sharia banker, he openly rebukes western-dominated organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Some friends have also suspected he dislikes Chinese entrepreneurs, because he often harshly comments about the behavior of Indonesian tycoons.
But this man who spent most of his time in the banking industry is an inspiration for me to appeal to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to help Indonesians who have no knowledge of why our politicians continue to blame the island state as the most responsible party in letting our mega wealthy corruption criminals find safe haven there. Many of us were struck by such provocative explanations.
Last week, while enjoying coffee at a warung, to my surprise he strongly defended Singapore when his friends expressed their outrage at the rising number of corrupt people fleeing to the city state, like Democratic Party (PD) treasurer Nazaruddin and Nunun Nurbaeti, the wife of former deputy National Police chief Adang Datadjatun. They blamed Singapore for its greediness for accumulating wealth from Indonesian criminals.
“Singapore is one of the most transparent and cleanest governments in the world. Our Chinese businesspeople do not dare break the law there because they know the severe consequences. This has nothing to do with ethnicity,” said the middle-aged accountant while holding his beard.
“Look also at Hong Kong. Its banking system is very prudent and our citizens there become law-abiding businesspeople,” he said, while citing his own experience in dealing with the banking industry in Singapore and Hong Kong.
It is very true that on Tuesday the Singaporean government announced that Nazaruddin was no longer in Singapore.
He had left the state before the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) declared him a suspect in a sports facility development project on June 30.
“But since Nazaruddin had not been charged with any crimes or even been named a suspect at the time he was in Singapore and had a valid Indonesian passport, there was no reason to stop him from entering or leaving the country,” the Singapore’s Foreign Ministry said.
We are totally wrong to believe that Singapore will collapse without us. Singapore has proven that its achievements to be on the list of the world’s most advanced nations are because of their own endeavor.
OK, there are many corrupt criminals who have fled there and refused to return home. But are we sure that they will never return to Indonesia? (There are rumors that they return home regularly with the full knowledge of Indonesian authorities).
Even when we succeed to force Singapore to accommodate those criminals, corrupt people will find Indonesia their most secure place to “hide”.
What can Singapore do now? I believe PM Lee needs to say loudly to Indonesians: “We will not tolerate the presence of any Indonesian crooks here.” And we will soon realize that we are totally wrong that Singapore is the major obstacle in our fight to eradicate massive corruption.