Here Thar Be Monsters!

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Law Of The Jungle

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
-Lord Acton

One thing is clear in Indonesia: the only law is Jungle Law. Would that it were this clear in

The seminal event that is raising a fuss around here is the incarceration of one Gayus Tambunan. Gayus is a low-level minion, who through his mafia ties and position of public trust has become rather wealthy. He was convicted of corruption and sentenced to several years in jail. So, why would anyone be surprised to see him in Bali watching a tennis match, wearing a wig, sitting near one of the richest and most powerful people in Indonesia (Bakrie)?

Turns out Gayus had paid US$40,000 to the warden and a much smaller amount to the other 'watchers' to get released on a regular basis to go about his business. Oh sure, if there was a bed-check, he was sitting there, but on holidays and special occasions, and for all we know, just about any other time, he was comfortably jetting around the country having the time of his life.

When the story broke in the newspaper Tempo, the police were satisfied to slit a couple of minion throats, but the media, and now the people, are not finished. The situation has opened a whole can of worms and shown the justice system for what it is: freedom for sale.

It's akin to the O. J. Simpson case in the States a while back. If you have enough money, you can buy your freedom. Of course, corruption in America works a little different, but in many ways it is far worse than the situation here.

One need look no further than George W. Bush. This vile criminal, who has blatantly violated national and international laws, ordered the deaths of millions of people, is responsible for torture and limitless internment of innocent people, is writing books and living in Texas. He charges money to give speeches or goes about his life completely unmolested. If someone tries to bring a case against him, the courts protect him. The color of law surrounds him.

In fact, the whole damn Bush family, at least since pappy Prescott, have flaunted the law and profited from criminal activity. Prescott was actually investigated by Congress for aiding and abetting the Nezis in WWII, but some well-applied campaign donations made that go away quietly. Daddy Bush was equally corrupt and evil, but he lives quietly in Houston, in the Tanglewilde subdivision, with some rather rich and famous neighbors.

So, Gayus getting out on personal recognizance by the application of some well-placed bribes hardly shocks me. Besides, I have personally witnessed police taking bribes in lieu of traffic infractions, and one wonderful individual tried to extort Rp.400,000 from me because I refuse to carry origial ID documents, preferring notarized copies instead. Fortunately, I have the personal phone number of the number two man in the police.

Law of the jungle.

I like my corruption open and clear, just like what I see here. In America, it is well-hidden and covered under the color of law. It all looks so official and legal, once the lawyers and judges finish with it. It's all because the American legal system has taken a lesson from the Bible: you write enough words and you can find a passage to justify anything.

To be sure, America and Indonesia are not isolated cases. Every political system on Earth is corrupt, to varying degrees. One thing is certain, though, the more wealth and power a system controls, the more corruption there is, until you reach the pinnacle in the crumbling empire of America, where vast sums of money flow and lives are bought and sold in boardrooms. You can be absilutely sure that under the fading facade, there is a seething, rotten core of evil and stench.

Look at Obama, for instance. Here is a man that was a UK citizen at birth, by virtue of his Kenyan father. He gave up any pretense of US citizenship when his mother married an Indonesian and moved here. Later, because his mother and step-father worked for the CIA, he was able to get a US passport again, but it is still questionable whether he has ever been a US citizen.

A great number of people have actively challenged his legal ability to be president under the Constitution, yet every single challenge has been rebuffed. Obama has spent well over US$1 million getting cases thrown out of court. Judges are either on the take or too fearful for their lives to allow a simple inquiry into the citizenship status of one man.

All Obama has to do, to save money and clear up the matter, is to present one document, similar to the one I have to carry with me and had to show the embassy to replace my passport: a birth certificate. But, graft and corruption are not cheap. They require a lot of money to get people to do things that in their hearts they know are wrong. After all, a notarized copy of a birth certificate costs US$20, but preventing exposure costs more than US$1 million.

Compared to what I know about he American 'justice' system, the Gayus case here seems mild. A convicted corrupt official pays to get out of jail. Hmmm...can you really be surprised by that? How many copies of G. W.'s witless tome were bought as political favors? Who did Al Gore pay to get an Oscar for his piece of clap-trap? The real inconvenient truth is behind the wizard's curtain, not in the atmosphere.

If there's money and power involved, there is deeply entrenched corruption. That is a foregone conclusion. I mean, I haven't even touched the banksters and Wall Street yet. Too easy a target. Like shooting fish in a barrel.

The Law of the Jungle is eat or be eaten. Money has teeth and those without it are prey. Corrupt systems are characterized by small groups of people controlling vast amounts of wealth.

Sound like a government/corporation you know?

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