Is Indonesia as Corrupt as Most People Believe and is it Getting Worse?

Many Indonesians consider their country one of the most corrupt in the world, and think it is getting worse. But is it really that bad? It could be argued that the publicity resulting from the efforts to curb corruption in Reformasi Indonesia – where the press is now free – has created the impression that corruption is getting worse, when the situation may, in fact, be improving. Who is right? And what are the prospects for reducing corruption once Yudhoyono steps down in 2014? Professor Howard Dick and Associate Professor Simon Butt consider these questions and examine the problems of measuring corruption, including a range of indexes. They discuss post-Soeharto anti-corruption reforms, the role of Indonesia’s Anti-Corruption Commission (KPK), the high level of publicity surrounding corruption cases, and how the KPK has become the target of continuing political attack.

Professor Howard Dick is an Asia specialist working primarily on Indonesia and Southeast Asia. His interests include applied economics, Asian laws, Asian business and the Asian business environment. He has written extensively on Indoneisa and Southeast Asia, including in Corruption in Asia: Rethinking the Governance Paradigm (with Tim Lindsey, Federation Press, Sydney, 2002). His current research focuses on issues of corruption and governance and the difficulties of driving institutional change by formal legal reform. He is a regular media commentator on Australia-Asia relations.

Associate Professor Simon Butt is an ARC Australian Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Associate Director (Indonesia) for the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law at the University of Sydney, where he teaches Indonesian law. He has written widely on aspects of Indonesian law, including in two recent books: Corruption and Law in Indonesia (Routledge, London, 2012) and The Constitution of Indonesia: A Contextual Analysis (with Tim Lindsey, Hart, London, 2012).