Graft is rampant in some countries, even blatant and bold.

“It’s the custom, don’t you know? You must have been away (from the country) far too long,” a minor custom official allegedly said.

Witness Than Shwe’s daughter’s opulent wedding jewelry.

We need a free media to contain this scourge or culture. Some people didn’t stop to think. It’s stealing from the country’s coffers and from the impoverished people and their future.

We might need courageous “whistle blowers” like this Indonesian general. See article below:


The Saturday Profile – Exposing Graft in Indonesia, but For Whose Gain? – Biography – NYTimes.com

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/08/world/asia/08general.html?pagewanted=1&ref=world

JAKARTA, Indonesia


CONSIDER the singing general, stripped of his official residence, his driver, his bodyguards, even of his fuel allowance. Once one of the most powerful figures in Indonesia’s 400,000-strong national police force, Gen. Susno Duadji now keeps close to home, attended to by family and a coterie of supporters, not least a food taster.

Surrounded by family photographs and a self-portrait in three-star uniform, the general recently received guests in his living room, where hammering from his next-door neighbor punctuated his threats to keep singing.

Written off because of a case of graft, denounced by the public, chucked out by his fellow police officers, the general has counterattacked in recent weeks by divulging information on corruption at the highest levels of the police and the government. The revelations have led to a standoff between the police and General Susno, who claims to have a vault full of secret documents about a limitless number of other cases. He is threatening to expose more, one by one.

Suharto was the smiling general,” he said, referring to Indonesia’s longtime military ruler. “I’m the singing general.”

And yet, this general, 55, also kept smiling during a long interview, a smile that betrayed little about his real motives. Were the revelations retribution? Were they an audacious move, made from inside the labyrinth of the Indonesian police’s power politics, to become the force’s top leader? Or, as he professes, were they simply a patriot’s effort to fight the corruption crippling his country?

IT was the first time that a member of the police force had turned so publicly against his colleagues, said Bambang Widodo Umar, who retired from the force with the rank of colonel and now teaches at the police academy and the University of Indonesia. In the past, acting on the unspoken rule that infighting should not harm the institution, high-ranking officers usually undermined rivals by discreetly criticizing them to the president or lawmakers.

In Indonesia, “it is still a taboo for a member of any organization to air its dirty laundry in public,” said Mr. Bambang, 63. He added that what General Susno was doing was “extraordinary, whether circumstances are forcing him to act or whether something inside is pushing him.”

The public first heard of General Susno less than a year ago. Investigators from Indonesia’s widely respected Corruption Eradication Commission caught him in a wiretap asking for a $1 million bribe; the general, who was the chief of detectives at the time and one of the force’s five most powerful officials, later said he knew his line was tapped and was simply playing along with the caller. Pursuing such a high-ranking official inflamed tensions between the antigraft commission and the police force, widely considered one of Indonesia’s most corrupt institutions.

General Susno then made matters worse by likening the commission’s pursuit of the police to “a gecko challenging a crocodile.”

Tens of thousands of Indonesian Facebook users, watchdog groups and the news media took the gecko’s side. General Susno became the symbol of police arrogance and impunity, an image that was reinforced by reports that he had tried to frame two of the anticorruption commission’s leaders. Months of mounting pressure on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and escalating street protests led to General Susno’s dismissal as chief of detectives in November. He narrowly escaped expulsion from the force.

General Susno said he became the scapegoat for the police’s mishandling of the public anger. He was “a victim,” he said. He acknowledged using the analogy of the gecko and the crocodile, but said it was misinterpreted. He said he never tried to undermine the anticorruption commission, often referred to as K.P.K., the initials of its name in Indonesian……

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