About Korupsi and Corruption

Korupsi is not the same as “Corruption,” be careful.


Is there official corruption in Bali? The short answer is “No, there is virtually no proven corruption in the Bali legal system!” But that answer needs some explantation.

The words collusion and corruption have specific meanings in Indonesian. They come from English, of course. Kolusi means, as in English, two parties working secretly together to reach a dishonest outcome. There is no actual law against kolusi, but it can be inferred from the results of police investigations or trials.

Korupsi looks like the English word “corruption” but it has a different meaning in Indonesia. In English we use "corruption" almost interchangably with “collusion.” But Korupsi is a crime with the specific meaning of money or objects of value changing hands to influence a legal proceeding which brings a loss to the state. In Indonesia, at least two witnesses must testify to actually seeing such a transaction, or there must be other incontrovertable evidence, to bring a conviction. Not very often do two witnesses testify to seeing a judge or police official receive a payoff.

Authorities in Bali are not korup. Korup refers strictly to a judgment from a criminal court proceeding. Anti-corruption commissions under President Yudhoyono have made great progress, and many high-profile convictions have been obtained throughout Indonesia. But despite several well publicized trials of public officials for suspected corruption involving tremendous losses of public funds, hardly a single public official in Bali has ever been convicted of the crime of korupsi.

Accusing someone of being korup can lead to a charge of fitnah. Even the statement “suspected of korupsi” is dangerous. This could mean that you are alleging a person to be an official suspect in a criminal investigation of korupsi; but if no internal police document actually names a person as an official suspect in the crime, the statement could be considered criminal defamation. One must be very careful with words in Indonesia.

So let me state very clearly here: There is no reason whatsoever to suspect the police or any other public officials in Bali of korupsi. Six police investigations into reported frauds or other suspected crimes in the Uluwatu cases have been stopped or suspended in unusual circumstances since 2006, but there is no indication of why this should have happened. There are no grounds to suspect korupsi. But kolusi seems pretty clear.