COOLER THAN ME? In 2010 no other Indonesian making more headlines in newspapers' front pages than Gayus Tambunan, as his ability to defy Indonesia's law constantly amazed the people throughout the year.
American magazine TIME recently chooses Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as its 2010 Person of the Year –an award for person who the magazine perceives as delivering the biggest impact for the world society throughout 2010.
Some identify the award as simply America’s Person of the Year, as the magazine shrugged off its own online poll and chose a less popular American (Zuckerberg) over an Australian whistleblower named Julian Assange, who brings world leaders in tremor with his leaked secrets and wins 20 times more votes than Zuckerberg on TIME official website.
Are we looking for Indonesia’s Person of the Year? Because Gayus Tambunan –a junior tax officer who reportedly possesses bank account and assets worth of 100 billion rupiah (US$ 11 million) that stacks in various forms from posh house to his wife’s luxurious jewelries– would definitely stand a chance.
Sometimes, it’s the crisis that drives significant changes and improvements, and on very rare occasions we should thank someone who brings the crisis to us in the first place.
Scoundrels give birth to heroes, and crises path way to improvement. With his acts, Gayus Tambunan obliquely fixes Indonesia’s notoriously corrupt administration by exposing the weakness of Indonesia’s law and judicial system, which leaves many top-tier government officials from Finance Ministry, Justice and Human Rights Ministry, The National Police, to the President himself, red-faced.
While The Beatles once said that money can’t buy you love, in 2010 Gayus has proved the opposite, as his money power had won the hearts of officials from his detention center as well as from the immigration office who help him defy the law.
If the National Police members and Justice and Human Rights officials could turn back time, perhaps they would not choose to arrest Gayus when he fled to Singapore in March and left him alone instead. The arrest of Gayus was merely a beginning of what would be a huge exposure that slapped those organizations right in their faces, pushing them harder to work on the reform programs that they always half-heartedly implement.
For government officials whose departments are embroiled in Gayus’s play, it has been a fast-pacing, intrigue-plagued drama since:
Had Gayus not been born in this world to become a tax office hitman and played mockery on Indonesia’s law system, Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar would not move a finger to reform his severely corrupt and dilapidated departments, whose performance he frequently boasts as “successful”.
Had he not bribed the prison guards and police officers in charge at his detention center (and got busted later), the hidden and long-concealed defects of law enforcement in Indonesia would not be revealed to the national and international community alike: That is, rich and high-profile criminal in Indonesia have always had the ability to disregard justice and buy themselves out of the prison if the price is right
Finally, had Gayus not disguised himself out to Bali, Macau, and Kuala Lumpur in 2010, the system on Indonesia’s prisons and immigration bureau would not have been fixed and transformed like we are watching right now.
It’s true that the government’s efforts in promoting justice equality for all Indonesians are still in progress following Gayus’s case, and the outcome is still far from perfect until now.
But thanks to Gayus, some minor progresses in Indonesia’s law enforcement start to materialize. If wealthy outlaws want to use the “temporary release service” for their holiday now, for example, at least they will have to pay much higher price –without doubt now detention center officials are facing higher risks to get caught, as the public’s scrutiny about the issue is getting higher than before.
To be our Person of the Year, Gayus has no reason to feel timid of the smart, Harvard-educated person like Zuckerberg. According to inside sources at the tax office interviewed by The Jakarta Post journalist, Gayus is indeed a genius himself as he reportedly boasts an extraordinarily high IQ of 147.
While his acts look clever and dull at the same time, and hence may not necessarily reflect his IQ, they are indeed improving this country in many aspects –both for the short-run and long-run
For leaking to the public about the truth that has long been cloaked, for forcing disgraced government officials to implement a larger level of bureaucratic reform, and for giving the media and public some entertainment to savor; Mr. Gayus Halomoan Partahanan Tambunan is an obvious choice for Indonesia’s Person of the Year of 2010.
This article was published in The Jakarta Post on Monday, January 10 2010