3 Phases of Corruption: A Reflection of Setya Novanto’s Electronic ID Corruption Case in Indonesia


Illustration, Photo source: jawapost

Indonesia’s media intensively reports Setya Novanto’s corruption case regarding e-KTP (Electronic Residential IDs) procurement which causes state loss of Rp 2.3 trillion. Numerous shows involving political analyst, a think-tank to review this case. It is not the first time media are busy reporting corruption case, even International Media such as NY Times put on one of their headlines from Suharto case, chief justice of Indonesia’s Constitutional Court Akil Mochtar, and now House of Speaker.

The question is how could this such as dirty disease and rotten behaviour persist in our political elite and even embedded in our democratic procedural through political oligarchy?.

Sadly, even, after all, types of media cover this news, the so-called ‘political elites’ can still keep the smile, and it seems like they did not do anything wrong. Their soul and morale are already dead, what it is wrong is right and what it is right is wrong for them. Now our elites are officially in acute moral crisis.

Why does corruption persist?1). Corruption is a short cost-benefit analysis of human nature. Dan Ariely, a behavioural economy from Duke University gives his insight on the psychology of corruption. He notes that people have two sides, one side wants to be an honest wonderful person and other side wants to benefit from being dishonest.

The question is how can you be an honest person if you are dishonest?. It turns out, individuals who are taken small benefit from being dishonest still consider their self an honest person. This is because people are trying to rationalise their behaviour base on the cost of benefits analysis. This is the earlier phase of morality distortion.

2). Corruption is a win-win solution. It persists because it is demanded. It does not matter whether it is big or small, what matter is: is it affordable or not?. In theoretical term, it is called ‘willing givers’. The theory of willing givers reveals that people hesitate to bribe if they are not asked or get gesture to do it.

They simply bribe because they have no good options. In this case, the power of extortion is higher than submission, but even though like that they still do it voluntarily. The weakness this theory cannot cover the feeling of from both side, people who bribes an officer ended up happy because they feel their interest is achieved and they start to compare their life with others (who cannot afford to pay ‘bribe‘) at this sense the principle of behavioral economics is playing them. And the taker is happy because they feel that what they get is voluntarily given. This is the medium phase of the moral distortion

3). Corruption is a justifying step of rationalising act. Being corrupt alone is harder than being corrupt in a group. People who tend to corrupt and give advantages for a particular group or altruistic corruption will justify their actions is normal, because the risks and benefits are shared together.

People within the group will stop to compare their self with others in moral burden and psychologically it gives their self-justifying act. This is the acute phase of corruption because the moral standard has shifted from its standard. At this stage, people do not care how big and how much the punishment will take. Because they justify their actions in the short-term process through sharing responsibility within corrupt partners so that they seek a big punishment as small pieces.

If we are now at stage three, then we can conclude that corruption has become a serious epidemic. The problem is how to stop phase 1 move to phase to 2 and how to make the phase 2 and phase to downs to phase 1. At Phase 1, embedded value of culture and religion is still considered effective because it still reminds of their moral standard. However, at phase 2, strong commitment and supervision are needed, people cannot be let alone to control their self at this stage, it needs to be monitored and supervised.

Therefore, they can be prevented to move to phase 3. And at the final phase, the only thing can be done through the Sun Tzu art of war where the leaders should be killed first to amputate physiological confidence of their troops (groups). The men who kill the enemy should be ‘roused to anger’ and give the rewards of their achievement.

Now those final steps can only be done by people, who have the highest power, President Jokowi and supported by the strongest power ‘Indonesian people’. The reward of his achievement will make him as a role model of trust for our future generation.