President Urges all Indonesians to Battle Corruption

JAKARTA ~ President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called this week on all Indonesians to join the fight against corruption, which is rampant in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

“I call on all the people of Indonesia not to be dizzied and not to be pessimistic about efforts to eradicate corruption,” Yudhoyono said in his annual speech to review the previous year.

He said the battle against corruption, which had eaten into the country’s wealth and scuttled the achievements of state budgets, should be “implemented earnestly.”

“Let us turn a new leaf in our nation’s life, by not being tempted and return to practicing KKN,” the president said, using an acronym for corruption, collusion and nepotism.

In his speech enumerating Indonesia’s achievements last year, Yudhoyono gave a post box number to which people could send reports to him about government officials who obstructed or hindered investment and business or were corrupt.

Yudhoyono said corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency were among several key factors that discouraged foreign investors.

The president was forced to create an SMS text message hotline in 2005 after the personal cellphone number he gave to the public was overwhelmed with complaints.

He had urged people to contact him directly about red tape or inept officials.

Yudhoyono was elected in September 2004 in large part because of his promises to improve governance and fight graft.

But critics have said that there has been insufficient progress and that partisanship has tainted the drive.

Indonesia has an endemic corruption problem. In November it was ranked 130 – together with Zimbabwe – out of 163 nations on anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International’s global corruption perception index for 2006.

In 2005, it was ranked 137 out of 158 nations.

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