News / Asia

Diplomatic Deadlock Stalls Anti-Corruption Efforts in Indonesia

Tax official Gayus Tambunan is escorted by police officers as he arrives at a district court for his corruption trial in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011
Tax official Gayus Tambunan is escorted by police officers as he arrives at a district court for his corruption trial in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2011
Kate Lamb

Singapore has long been a notorious safe haven for Indonesian corruption suspects on the run. The two countries drafted an extradition and defense treaty in 2007, but Indonesia’s parliament still has not ratified it.

A string of Indonesian corruption suspects have fled to neighboring Singapore in recent years, including bank owners alleged to have stolen billions in bailout funds during the Asian financial crisis.

The latest high-profile Indonesian fugitive to flee to the city state was the treasurer of the president's Democratic Party, Muhammad Nazaruddin. The former parliament member was sacked after receiving alleged kickbacks in connection with the South East Asia Games. Last month, he was extradited from Colombia.

Before him it was Nunun Nurbaeti, a high profile businesswoman embroiled in a corruption case involving several lawmakers. She has not been seen since she escaped to Singapore.

Indonesia’s foreign ministry admits an extradition treaty would deter corruptors, but the government will not ratify it without changes. Spokesman Michael Tene says the current combined extradition and defense agreement would allow Singapore’s military to train in Indonesian territory.

"The Singaporean views this as one package, meaning that the ratification of the extradition treaty has to be in the one package with the defense cooperation agreement," said Tene. "While on our side we view as a separate agreement ... Subsequently when the agreement was submitted to the parliament for ratification there was a request for some amendments on the defense cooperation agreement. The Singaporean [side] so far has refused to negotiate on the amendment."

Singapore has not arrested or extradited any of Indonesia's most recent corruption suspects and it looks certain the diplomatic deadlock will continue.

On a visit to Indonesia this week, the Singaporean State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Masagos Zulkifli, stressed the treaty would never be up for renegotiation but the country would support efforts to return Indonesian crime suspects if there is sufficient evidence.

Despite a high profile anti-graft campaign by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Indonesia remains one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Former Corruption Eradication Commissioner (KPK) Erry Riyana Hardjapamekas says the number one priority for the parliament is to ratify the treaty as soon as possible -- despite the objections over the military concessions.

"I think that is the first priority," Erry said. "Priority number one could also be military cooperation but number one should be how to combat corruption. For Indonesia, they have to have a treaty to capture all the stolen assets stolen taken by corruptors."

Because almost 40 percent of Indonesia’s named corruption suspects are current or former parliament members, it is understandable that some lawmakers may be interested in stalling the extradition treaty.

But the former commissioner of the anti-corruption agency says Singapore may have its own reasons for stalling the treaty.

"At least we know there is resistance from the Singapore side, maybe for economic reasons, or other reasons...It is general knowledge that to a certain extent Singapore is depending on our economic flow of goods, flow of services and also funds," Erry said. "So we understand that, but it could be done with an extradition treaty. If we sign that treaty it doesn't mean that economic cooperation would be decreasing significantly. We can always find out a compromise to compensate for that."

A wealth report by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini in 2006 estimated that about one-third of the 55,000 millionaires who lived in Singapore at that time were Indonesian, with assets totaling $87 billion.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's administration has made some progress in jailing corrupt officials but last year Transparency International ranked Indonesia 110th out 178 countries on its corruption index, no movement from the year before.

You May Like

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

Video One Year After Massacre, Iraq’s Yazidis a Broken People

Minority community still recovering from devastating assault by IS militants which spurred massive outrage More

‘Malvertisements’ Undermine Internet Trust

Hackers increasingly prey on users' trust of major websites to delivery malicious software More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs