Australia Awards in Indonesia

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11 Feb 2016

Political Corruption in Decentralised Indonesia: The Case of Banten

Nur Yuliantoro, July 2010
Flinders University

This thesis is focused on political corruption involving officials and politicians in the highest levels of government in Banten, a province not far from Jakarta. Since the collapse of the Soeharto regime in 1998 Indonesia’s new rulers have proclaimed that Indonesia is now in the  Era Reformasi (Reform Era) which is determined to end the old pattern of  Korupsi, Kolusi, dan Nepotisme (KKN, corruption, collusion and nepotism). However, there  is considerable doubt about the national and local government’s capacity or will to significantly reduce corruption. In the context of local politics, some have claimed a ‘decentralisation of corruption’ as political corruption became rampant in the regions following the implementation of decentralisation in 2001.

Exploring two major political corruption cases in the province (the  Dana Perumahan/housing incentives and the land acquisition of Karangsari), this thesis will investigate further the ‘decentralisation of corruption’ claim in Banten. By employing local political and socio-cultural aspects, the investigation focuses on four main questions: (1) what factors were behind the cases?; (2) how did the state (the law enforcement agencies) respond to the  cases and why?; (3) what responses did the anti-corruption forces within society demonstrate in relation to the cases and why?; and (4) what is the likely future of political corruption in Banten?

This thesis finds that while to a large extent decentralisation facilitated political corruption in Banten, it was not the major cause in either case. Rather, the cases were more influenced by the so-called ‘unbalanced’ relations between formal and informal politics. A particular pressure group dominates over power holders, a situation that existed from the establishment of the Province in 2000. The leader of this group is arguably the most influential person in Banten, while his eldest daughter is now serving as the Governor. The relationship may also explain the responses of the state and the anti-corruption forces to the studied cases, which were not handled properly. It is expected that political corruption may rise following the relative success of the dominant pressure group in district/city level elections in Banten.

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