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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid