Shariah Does Not Lower Corruption: Study

Police officers stage a Shariah raid in Banda Aceh in this file photo. (EPA Photo/Hotli Simanjuntak)

By : Dyah Ayu Pitaloka | on 12:26 PM March 15, 2014
Category : News, Featured, Corruption, Religion

Police officers stage a Shariah raid in Banda Aceh in this file photo. (EPA Photo/Hotli Simanjuntak) Police officers stage a Shariah raid in Banda Aceh in this file photo. (EPA Photo/Hotli Simanjuntak)

Malang. A survey in three provinces found that young people’s level of understanding of corruption and their willingness to obey the law did not correlate with Shariah, poverty or living in a multicultural society.

A survey by Transparency International Indonesia found that an understanding of corruption in the Shariah-based Aceh province was lowest compared to East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) and East Java.

“It shows that there was no correlation between the implementation of Shariah law, living in one of the poorest provinces, or living in a multicultural society, with the level of understanding of corruption and breaking the law. Young people in these provinces understand what corruption is, and they also have experience in bribing officials,” Transparency International Indonesia’s youth program coordinator, Lia Toriana, said in a discussion at the secretariat of Malang Corruption Watch (MCW) in Malang, East Java, on Thursday.

A survey conducted between July and December last year found that only 31 percent of respondents in Aceh had a high level of awareness of the negative effects of corruption on society, compared to 54 percent in East Java and 55 percent in NTT.

“Their level of understanding of the bad effects of corruption is a measure of their integrity, which means no lying, no cheating,” Lia said.

She said even though the respondents claimed to be aware that corruption was wrong, most of them have committed bribery or cheated someone before.

Most of the corrupt practices they had committed, were related to police, getting a job, getting business permits or passing a  school examination. A small number of them admitted to having bribed officials at community health centers or hospitals to get quick and better service.

“Eighty-six percent of the respondents in Banda Aceh have bribed police when they got a ticket [for a traffic violation], while 87 percent in East Java and 83 percent in NTT had done similar,” she said.

Emphasis on morality

Lia said Islamic law imposed in Aceh placed more emphasis on morality and the bodies of residents.

“Shariah law emphasizes morality and the body. It’s not used to fight corruption. Take for instance, the [regulation] that bans women from straddling motorcycles or the cutting off of a thief’s hand. They do not apply Shariah to cases of corruption, and instead still use the anticorruption law for corruption cases,” Lia said.

The survey involved 2,000 respondents ranging between 15 and 30 years of age in the three provinces. The survey was conducted in those provinces because they were considered to be very different.

Transparency International Indonesia chose Aceh to see the correlation between the level of understanding of corruption with the implementation of Shariah law. NTT was chosen because the World Bank once named it Indonesia’s poorest province, while East Java was picked because of the multicultural background of its people.

The survey also showed that respondents trusted the police and military the least, with only 23 percent in Aceh, 44 percent in East Java and 20 percent in NTT saying they did.

“Most of the bribery involved the traffic corps when issuing a fine. We submitted this survey to the police as reference in an attempt to carry out internal reformation,” Transparency International Indonesia director Dadang Trisasongko said.

Dadang added that corruption has not only become an inter-regional problem but also an inter-country problem.

“The readiness to commit bribery is the same for young people in villages where the level of access to information and services is lower than for those who live in cities. Many cases of inter-country money laundering, for instance, are from developing countries to developed countries,” he said.

Previously, Uchok Sky Khadafi, investigations and advocacy coordinator at the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (Fitra), said Aceh was the most corrupt province in Sumatra over the past five years with the Supreme Audit Board (BPK) having found budget irregularities in the province of more than Rp 10 trillion ($880 million) in the 2009-2013 period.

“Findings of budget irregularities in the provincial level in Aceh reached Rp 7.4 trillion with 331 cases, while budget irregularities on the district and city level in Aceh reached Rp 2.9 trillion with 2,068 cases,” Uchok said.

“The BPK does not normally perform audits on 100 percent of the budget, and the cases represented in the findings constitute  only 20 percent. You can imagine if the audit was carried out 100 percent,” he said.

Askhalani, coordinator of Aceh’s People’s Movement Against Corruption (GeRAK), said most of the corruption in the province involved grants and social aid.

He also blamed the rampant corruption in the province on the failure by legislators to properly carry out their supervisory functions.

“Some legislators even participated in   the corruption, or demanded a fee to be donated to their political parties or for their own interests,” he said.

Askhalani said he could not understand the large extent of the corruption in Aceh because the province adopted Shariah law.

In terms of corruption, Aceh is followed by oil-rich province Riau with potential losses of around Rp 708 billion, Jambi (Rp 604 billion), North Sumatra (Rp 565 billion), West Sumatra (Rp 249 billion), Lampung (Rp 108 billion), South Sumatra (Rp 101 billion), Bengkulu (Rp 91 billion) and Bangka Belitung (Rp 27 billion).

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