Corruption is a challenging concept to define.
It’s as elusive as love, trust, or morality, with each person having their own interpretation.
Pramoedya Ananta Toer is Indonesia’s most famous writer.
In 1954 he wrote a powerful book “Corruption”.
Describing the life of a civil servant gradually succumbing to corruption.
It offers a profound analysis and shows that corruption is more nuanced than a black-and-white concept.
If you want to know which country is the most corrupt, check international bodies, such as Transparency International.
You will see that the index is even called a PERCEPTION index.
Proof that corruption is also difficult to measure.
Corruption comes from many factors such as poverty, income inequality, weak governance, culture, history, politics…
As Elizabeth Pisani reminds us in her great 2014 book “Indonesia Etc…”:
The 1945 Declaration of Independence from Dutch colonists read:
[…] Matters relating to the transfer of power, ETC… will be executed carefully and as soon as possible.
We are in 2023, and the legacy of this “ETC…” still resonates today.
This ambiguity gives flexibility to Indonesia’s legal system, offering efficiency but also the potential for its manipulation.
Dutch presence and colonization of Indonesia for over 3 centuries has left a legacy of Dutch colonial law.
Indonesia modern law, started in 1945, is a mix of:
-A civil law system (Roman Law, Napoleonic Code) coming from the Dutch.
-Customary law known as “adat” (unwritten traditional rules like animism for example).
So, the Indonesian law is both young and old.
It is a challenge for foreigners accustomed to other legal systems that have evolved for centuries.
Consider France and USA for example: their constitutions were established in 1791 and 1787. Inspired by French philosopher Montesquieu’s 1748 “The Spirit of Laws”.
What I particularly like in Pisani’s book is the distinction between
“good” corruption which redistributes wealth
and “bad” corruption that concentrates it, leaving the masses poor.
This raises questions about the morality and ethics surrounding corruption.
Thankfully, the world has legal frameworks and international conventions to fight corruption.
And most companies do have codes of conduct and governance policies.
Technology is another tool, recent and powerful, to combat corruption:
Digitalization enhances transparency and accountability.
If you’re considering business ventures in Indonesia, avoid relying solely on simplistic beliefs, superficial opinions, or index ranking.
Engage a local adviser who will bring you invaluable insights.
At CINTASIA, we provide comprehensive due diligence:
➡ in strict adherence to the Law
➡ in line with the highest ethical standards
➡ to maximize the return on your investment
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