PP 37

Jan 29th, 2007, in News, Opinion, by

New contributor Ross McKay discusses the “PP 37”, a new law granting pay rises to parliamentarians.

Metro TV news on the 27th showed the latest demo against the infamous PP 37, the government regulation which gives a green light to hefty increases in DPRD (local authority) allowances. Saturday’s to-do saw a tire set alight in the vestibule of Banten Province’s civic headquarters, but Metro followed up with a full report on what I regard as a nationwide exercise in political gluttony which has sparked protests from the capital to the uttermost islands.

Saturday’s Jakarta Post had two reports, one from Padang, Sumatra, where indignant councillors have lodged a legal complaint that the Alliance Against Government Regulation 37/2006 (AAGR), who have held protest rallies almost every day this past week, are guilty of “humiliating leaders or legal bodies”, which is a crime under articles 207 and 208 of the Criminal Code.

AAGR, which comprises numerous local student executives and over 30 NGOs in that province, has apparently upset the councillors by erecting a banner emblazoned with “Corruptors’ Den” outside their offices. The offended representatives deny they are opposed to the right of protest but feel wounded by accusations of “stealing the people’s money”.

The other Post item concerned a similar protest on the 25th in Depok, on the capital’s periphery, where a rally took place outside the mayor’s office organized by FITRA, the Indonesian Forum for Budget transparency. Their spokesman, Roy Trigina, explained their objections to the implementation of the regulation. As quoted on tempointraktif.com:

They already receive high salaries. They don’t need allowances for holding meetings or talking on the phone.

On the morning of the 28th Metro had another report this time from Palembang in Sumatra, with KAMMI, the Muslim students’ group, playing a major role in the demo against PP37.

This is a long-term protest, as first one then another council endorses its own enrichment. Banten Province, next door to Jakarta, gave itself the money the week after the regulation was issued on November 14th 2006. (payments to be back-dated to January.)

One estimate of the cost to the nation is USD 1.9 billion over the next 5 years (JP 19/1). It would be nice to hear the recipients offer rational justification for the largesse, but their public pronouncements in general are pretty well summarized by what one of them said to the JP on 19th January. Ade Supriatna, Speaker of Jakarta’s Council, was speaking in his role as chairman of the Indonesian Councillors’ Association. Rejecting calls to revoke the regulation, he said such an attempt would:

put stability in local politics at risk and would therefore not create a conducive environment for regional development.

This logic may not be immediately obvious to less exalted citizens, but Ade pressed home his point.

All councillors are expecting these allowances”¦.we won’t get support if we don’t have the allowance.

His views, as he prepared to lobby the government, were backed by other local government stars, such as Bekasi’s Daddy Kusrady, who said the allowances are “legally justifiable”, whatever that means, and that “most” of his colleagues would “give the money back to the citizens” in the form of food and health donations. He did not say what the others (the non-most) would spend it on.

Personally, I recall from my elected role in local government in the West that I got great support from all kinds of people when I opposed freebies and self-indulgent cash claims by councilors, but of course Ade does not see it that way, referring to “the cost of politics”. It seems that he and his colleagues have to deal with “cash contributions for their constituents and political parties, as well as to entertain guests and facilitate meetings”.

I often held my meetings in the public parks, I distributed my own newsletter, helped by people who did so because they supported me, not because I paid them with money, goods or services. The only service I, or any councillor, anywhere, anytime, should provide, is representation, caring and conscientious. (Actually, I did enjoy one useful perk, a free bus pass, to let me zoom round problem areas and get from home to meetings to constituents but I can’t imagine the over-fed elite of Jakarta shoving past me as I board an angkot or a metro-mini. Apart from the metropolitan rich’s snobbery, they’d likely be afraid the folks would find out they had a big fish in their midst and start frying!)

How much cash is set to pour down this collective drain? A good example is of course the nation’s capital, where Jakarta’s councillors are enjoying a big increase in their already exorbitant incomes. There are 70 of them, and one is reported as saying they should “ideally” get 50 or better still 100 million per month. The new increase means about 1.65 billion rupiah goes on the honourable members.

Basic pay goes up to Rp. 23.5 million a month. (Rp 19000 per pound, 9000 to the USD), in a city where thousands sleep under bridges and on the street. The poor councillors enjoy a housing allowance of Rp.11,000,000, which is absurd. Our nice enough little house costs us just over a million a month. They of course won’t live in modest districts like ours, preferring fancy enclaves where they can rub shoulders with equally rich expats.

The man who thinks the hike inadequate is quoted whining that his money is siphoned off by his party’s hangers-on. “Every day”, he explained:

about four to seven cadres from the legislators’ respective parties come for money.

Apparently this is not for public or even political needs but to “help cover expenses for hospital bills for relatives”. Yuk!

Lots of regions have serious separate problems, but this issue seems to have united everyone, in a way reminiscent of the huge protests that culminated in the fall of Sukarno in the Sixties and Suharto in the nineties. Aside from the councillors quoted, not a single soul I have spoken to has a good word to say for PP37. One hopes SBY listens to people outside the charmed elite.


11 Comments on “PP 37”

  1. Parvita says:

    I don’t see a reason why they have to get such big raise when there is no equal balance to the outcome. I don’t see any reason why they have to get additional pay for meetings; their job description includes meetings.

    But guess what, it is not only DPR that gets additional money and benefit for absurd things. Take a look at other government employees, who are supposed to be civil servants. I work pretty close to MIGAS and BPMIGAS and those people get paid by contractors, outrageous amount of money when they go for business travel, especially abroad. I once had to made up a technical justification for one of the BPMIGAS personel to boondoggle to Kalimantan. That’s only local trip (they get paid almost 1 million roops for 1.5 days travel, while I get nothing. Tragic).

    If a higher positioned guy goes for a trip abroad, say, if the company headquarter is in Paris, they will ask for a trip, make up a reason, “for audition”. Or, when the meeting is scheduled for 5 days, they ask if the meeting could be only 1.5 days, and the rest of the day they will go travelling with the contractor’s expense. I even had an experience when one (or two) of the big guys in BPMIGAS shamelessly asked for tickets to watch football match at San Ciro (several kilometers outside Milan) and the company gave them the balcony. One ticket was around 200 Euro. And I happened to know two cases. As an Indonesian working in a foreign company, I am totally ashamed of my own people.

    However, these people do it pretty subtle. DPR does it bluntly when they ask for money for travelling. For instance, when the gas sales from the West Natuna Transportation System was going on, these reps from the government bluntly asked for $5000 for 2 days travel to Singapore, on top of their lodging. And when they went there, they have no idea what they are looking at, or looking for.

    The money for comparison studies, they said? Maybe it is only uang jalan-jalan. They cannot even implement what Singapore implements at intersections: if a car is in the middle of a big junction on red light, they will get fined. Just simple things, they cannot do it. No money? Whoaaaa….

    Overall, it is the mentallity of the people that really makes me question, is this really the mentallity of Indonesian people? Shameless? Greedy? Pervert?

    Really, it pisses me off looking at these people, who are sucking tax payers money. I am fully behind those who protest against this. I do hope SBY will not grant such thing or else we are going to face another revolution. But what can I say, I’m just a normal person, who WORK for a decent living…!

  2. Dimp says:

    Hi Parvita,

    Unfortunately this is the fact of life in Indonesia, that is why I have very little faith in the government, they are supposed to represent the people, but what I am seeing is that the people are suffering because lack of food and other basic necessities, while the fat cats in Jakarta only think about their own pockets.

    I have only got one word for them “SHAME”.

  3. Hassan says:

    I would like to say to Ross McKay (the writer of the article) that if on other parts of the world money politics exists, in Indonesia the word ‘politics’ is synonymous with ‘money’. “No money, no politics” is the mind frame here. That said, money politics also thrives in our dear country.

  4. Ade Wanto says:

    PP 37 is a perfect intreprepation’s sample of daily politics in Indonesia. I agree to Hassan, “No money, no politics” . This is also a result from INDONESIA’S POLITICAL REFORMATION.

    Great happy days for Indonesia’ Representatives, MERDEKA BUNG !

    I ask all Indonesia’s Parliament Persons to use the money like YZ had spent to Maria Eva. Maybe they will become producer for Mulan Kwok after she left Ratu. So Indonesians will happy ever after hear Mulan’s singing and dancing on the stage. Do they need Mulan’s number? Please notify me.

    I offer them too to spend the money to buy New Iraqi Dinars – so they will take a lucrative investment. Then they will have a great answer to the KPK question if the latest ask.

    I really get headache when seeing political person behavior in Indonesia. It’s very embarassing.

  5. Dimp says:

    Hi,

    I heard that SBY is reviewing the PP37, again it shows how the Indonesians work, very slow, what he needs to do is just scrap the PP alltogether and start from scratch, all representatives need to be paid based on their performance, and seeing that their level of performance up to date some of them actually need to pay the government back.

  6. Ade Wanto says:

    This PP 37 comes from SBY next door’ office – his VP. To fund raise for 2009 electoral campaign, all member parties especially to whom sit in representatives office must donate. The PP is based on the latest though. So, I don’t think SBY could reviewing. Those are many ways to raise fund from politics in Indonesia. Someone is founding party just to collect money from political’ investors and government aid to party. There are billion rupiah for every five years National Election ceremonial; and hundreds million local election. This money comes from Indonesians pocket. If Indonesians buy cigarettes, some tax money will go to the Parties’ fund and Parliament Persons’ pocket.

    When you sit as a House Representatives Office, you may have a lot of people come to you. Your table in Senayan Office is full of donation’ demanding. If you don’t give them, you must be prepare sometime you need them you cannot ask them. Many people believe that “The Political Leader” must give donation to them. This the money for politics begin. It is about culture.

  7. Parvita says:

    You know, this is really embarrassing. Sometimes as a person who is working professionally, (let’s assume that we are all middle class white collar people here), I feel disturbed with this issue. Is there anything that we can do? What kind of power do we have? We all pay tax, the tax goes to government and representatives, do we really like that our tax money goes like this? Maybe like a one day strike?

    Maybe if we get together there is something that we can contribute to this country. Instead of just complaining, maybe there is something more realistic that we can do about this. The problem is, our sum is so small. I don’t know what kind of power we have…

  8. Dimp says:

    Hi Parvita,

    Maybe if we get together there is something that we can contribute to this country. Instead of just complaining, maybe there is something more realistic that we can do about this. The problem is, our sum is so small. I don’t know what kind of power we have”¦

    What we need to have is a clean government to start with. When the Asian Crisis happened, Thai people actually gave away their money to the government to help the government. Now I don’t see this happening in Indo as the people know that the government will just take their money and put it in their pocket.

  9. Ihaknt says:

    Patung, I just have to say this one in Indo, no other language can quite capture the meaning.

    Makanya, begini ngaku orang Islam suci. Munafik!

  10. Ross says:

    To Parvita
    I’d have replied earlier but floods denied me email access.
    Don’t give up. In the West there are bad parties and bad politicians but this is the internet age and honest folk can get together much more easily.
    If enough people start an honest party, not fanatic and not marxist, and fight for it, you may well be surprised what support you will get. I’m not saying this would be an easy option, but it’s up to Indonesians who care.

  11. Arema says:

    In Singapore, pay rise for ministers is also a hot topic currently. The issue arises when a newspaper published a statistics where ministers get paid less than most top earners in Singapore. It raises concern that if the top / best people is not paid top dollars, they might opt to move to private sector and leaving the government with “second class” personnel, which Singapore could not afford. Surprisingly, not much people object the idea of paying their minister more than a million dollar a year (that’s a huge payrise I tell you, from previously “only” a few hundred thousand dollars a year), because they have shown results and integrity.

    It is simple actually. Results first, and then compensation. It works this way and not the other way around. This is what companies do, and why shouldn’t government do the same? Impress your boss and get a high payrise, disappoint your boss and get the boot. Simple.

    If they reason the money is not enough now, it will NEVER be enough. Greedy bastards!. If they reason it will stop corruption, it will not, it will just reduce the total amount of money to be corrupted. If they can’t work with “that kind of pay” they shouldn’t be politicians in the first place.

    If they got a “blind payrise” without performing, then it will be a huge downfall for policitians’ moral in Indonesia. “Without doing anything I can get this, so why bother doing something extra?” attitude will sprout everywhere, and I guess it’s game over already.

    I think we wouldn’t mind if we give the best pay to our government IF they can perform like Singapore’s, right? but that’s a big IF there… a very big one.

    I think they should get 50% paycut, I really do. And much stricter punishment to corruptors. Death penalty plus plus plus. We are overpopulated anyway, losing some corruptors is like killing two birds with one stone.

    By the way, any update on this issue?

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