Ramadhan or not, corruption still goes on


The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, 08/06/2011

The lobby of the West Jakarta administration office at Jl. Daan Mogot KM 11 was crowded on Friday afternoon as applicants were trying to process their driving licenses as soon as possible at the police office.

Beside the lobby’s entrance door, a policeman explained to a middle-aged man about the procedure to get the driver’s license, including the need for several documents like ID (KTP), the copy of his expired card and license renewal.

Meanwhile, in the right corner of the lobby, Rita was sitting on one of the chairs tidily arranged for applicants who want to get a license for the first time. Officially, she had to undergo several procedures, like driving and psychological tests.

Rita, who lives in Kebon Jeruk in West Jakarta, said that she used the service of a middleman to help her get the license within the day.

“I gave the middleman around Rp 500,000 [US$59] this morning,” she said.

One middleman, Rochim (not his real name), said the official cost for a new license was Rp 175,000. But he explained the procedure could be very tiring and the applicant might fail several times for no reason. He charged his clients Rp 550,000.

When a visitor expressed her surprise that kickbacks and bribery were rampant at the office, even during Ramadhan, he just replied with a grin, “Ramadhan doesn’t change anything in our business here.”

He assured the shocked woman that the policemen for whom he worked at the office would receive the money from him.

“They need more money for the upcoming Idul Fitri holiday,” said the middleman, who has operated there for 18 years.

It seems that the holy month of Ramadhan does not have a significant impact upon the corrupt behavior of officers providing public services.

A staff member at the West Jakarta immigration office offered his services to provide passports much faster than the official eight-day procedure.

“This is Friday. So you will get your passport by Thursday morning at the latest if you are willing to pay me Rp 700,000,” he said with a loud voice through the window of the office’s customer care locket, as the lobby was extremely crowded on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m.

A passport applicant told The Jakarta Post that she paid around Rp 600,000 to a middleman to help her arrange for a new passport.

“I met with the man this morning to hand in the money and complete all the necessary requirements,” said the woman, who needs the passport to work as a housemaid in Hong Kong.

When told that she did not have to pay anything because the state provides free passports for migrant workers, the 34 year old from East Java was silent for a moment and then smiled. “Well, I don’t believe there is such a thing as free service in this country.

“However, I thought people would be kinder during Ramadhan,” she said, while sighing.

A taxi driver from a well-known taxi company said it was difficult for him to find people who behave better on the street during the fasting month.

“Ramadhan or not, people still drive their vehicles in a crazy way on the streets,” he said. (msa)


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