Indonesian anti-corruption agenda falters, but perhaps other things matter more

31 Mar 2009

This paper discusses anti-corruption talk in Indonesia in the context of it being merely one part of a broader debate about the nature of the state.

Gerry van Klinken of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies writes that despite the apparent appeal of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's record of fighting corruption, "foreigners would be wise not to jump to simple conclusions about the centrality of the anti-corruption agenda in this year’s presidential contest. Not every group of voters views the corruption issue the same way." After a detailed review of recent anti-corruption activities and a strong counter-reaction, van Klinken concludes that the contest between Yudhoyono and Megawati could bring to light differences over the direction in which Indonesia as a whole should be going. Class is making its presence felt in subtle ways. An essentially negative anti-graft program by itself is not enough to transform Indonesian governance. Anti-corruption talk, and the increasingly verbalised resistance to it, is merely one part of a broader (though understated) debate about the nature of the state in Indonesia."

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