The 1998 movie titling The Negotiator tells a story about denigrated police lieutenant (Samuel L. Jackson) who is framed by a top-brass police officer because of his awareness of money embezzlement case, which involves many police officers in Chicago Police Department.
In the efforts of proving his innocence and unfolding the police corruption case, he storms the police building and holds several police officers and civilians as his hostage. However, the hostages are successfully rescued in the end, with Jackson impressively fleeing the crime scene.
“You must have some idea,” said a police officer who investigates one of the civilian hostages to look for clue where Jackson is going.
“I’d really like to help, but my lips are sealed,” the civilian replied. “Frankly I don’t trust any of you; I’m very disappointed in all of you.”
After listening to those lines, I was sure that many Indonesians would agree that the setting of the movie will be more suitable if it takes place in one of the departments in Indonesia’s National Police, instead of Chicago Police Department in US.
I imagine a situation where the National Police really sues a journalist from Tempo magazine and that journalist runs away and becomes fugitive –if I know something about his existence and I were ever investigated, I would utter exactly the same words as that civilian from the movie does.
Observing the National Police’s attitude at the moment, it is not difficult to identify why it is currently considered as the least admired institution in Indonesia. In addition to its notorious status as the most corrupt organization in the country, perhaps it can also be perceived as one of the worst government institutions when it comes to the commitment to serve the people.
Truthfully speaking, I hate everything that has to be dealt with the police –a sentiment which most Indonesians could also feel at the moment.
In fact, I can still genuinely remember when I had to give money to bribe a police officer to pass the driving license test. During my previous attempts, I insisted to take the test without giving any bribe which led me to fail the test with no reason explained by the police officer in charge.
Or when I accompanied my friend, who had his car stolen, and we had to visit the police office four times just to have an available police officer who can handle the paperwork for the car’s insurance.
“Please come again next time, I’m busy here,” said one of the police officers during our third visit. “The other [two police officers in this department] should handle you, but my partner has not returned yet from his holiday and the other one is sleeping and cannot be disturbed,” he said while pointing to the other police officer who innocently slept next to him during his office hours.
And regarding the recent fallout of the bulky bank accounts of several police generals, in reality few were shocked when such case was divulged. If we look around in the neighborhood; the presence of police generals with 9 million rupiah salary (that includes, according to Tempo magazine, their various grants and allowances) yet still manage to possess luxurious houses and vehicles has not been a thing worth a news–it is a well-known scandal among Indonesians.
The National Police, however, was enraged and almost sued Tempo as they think the magazine, in the police’s ridiculous perspective, compared the members of the institution with bunch of pigs in its cover. Soon as the case made public, Molotov cocktails were hurled to Tempo office and, not so long afterwards, an Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) activist was beaten and hurried to hospital.
By reacting in such manner, they even proved that the allegation was true; if the facts revealed were false and those police generals were clean or earn the money legally, then why bothered and wasted so much energy responding to the publication in such childish and frantic fashion?
And those rich generals of the National Police, who have been flustered because of the exposure of this hefty bank account case, are the only ones who have the motive to do such violent acts.
Of course, the police generals will not admit to be ones who are responsible for those violent acts, and the National Police will argue that this is just another political plan or slander plot to taint their image in public. But think the logic of their argument: what’s the use of tainting the image of an institution whose reputation among the public has already been at its worst?
After all these disgraces, if those rich police generals still reject the public’s accusations and refuse external interventions in probing their institution; perhaps the best thing that they can do is to trace the source of the money from which their family buy their daily food, and reflect themselves in a mirror.
There are only three ways a person can become exceptionally rich but not from his own salary. First is by becoming entrepreneur who builds his own business, second is by becoming investor who plays and speculates in financial instruments like stocks and bonds, and third is, well, by becoming corruptor who receives illegal bribes and embezzles money.
If those top-brass police officers are neither a successful entrepreneur nor a witty investor, then perhaps the third category fits them best.
Whether they like it or not, so far it seems to be the best explanation to the baffled Indonesians who are currently wondering how they can transform their 9-million-rupiah monthly salary into multi-billion-rupiah bank account.
This article was published in The Jakarta Post on Wednesday, July 21 2010