Our politicians, their wealth and the virtue of honesty

Indra Soebagjo, Jakarta

Padangekspres.net-I don’t usually remember the content of Friday sermons, but somehow this particular sermon during Friday prayers in the bustling city of Bandung was different.

The preacher was lecturing about the virtue of honesty and asked a question that has lingered in my mind to this day. His question was: “Can ill-gotten wealth be considered as good fortune [rezeki]?”

As the preacher continued with his sermon, my mind drifted back to the days when I was a high school student.

I remembered one evening, it was nearing 8 p.m. and I was heading toward the bus station in Blok M, South Jakarta.

I remember seeing a rubbish cart on the pavement but something next to it made me stop dead in my tracks. Beside the cart, sheltered from the cold night wind, I saw a mother feeding her two young children.

I stopped and kept my distance from them, protected by the darkness of the night, to observe this heart-breaking sight.

I saw the mother hand-feeding a plate of rice and a small piece of meat to the mouths of her hungry children. I could see and feel through the children’s eyes the daily pain and suffering they had to
endure.

Each mouthful of rice they swallowed had given them the hope of coping and surviving yet another day. “God bless this mother and her children. Give them the strength to survive and provide them with the happy lives they deserve,” I prayed quietly to myself.

It is state funds, originally allocated for people like that mother, that corrupt thieves in this country have stolen to maintain their lavish lifestyles or fraudulent agendas. I want them to see the eyes of these children every time they line their pockets with their dirty money.

I gave the mother Rp 5,000 (58 US cents), with the sincere hope of lessening her burden. That was all I could do.

After the sermon, I picked up a newspaper at a street corner that once again reminded me of all the corruption and stealing taking place in this country.

Each person in power tries to be righteous by denying any wrongdoing and accusing others as common criminals.

The words of the preacher started to make perfect sense of what is happening around us today.

Looking at the picture in the newspaper of a corrupt tax employee being led away by state prosecutors, I wondered what was going through his mind.

Did he honestly think he could escape the law and live happily ever after without a single care in the world? Even if he did manage to evade the law, how would he feel, as a low-level civil servant, to be riding a car fit for a president? Dark-tinted car windows would be required to hide his shame, if he has any.

Don’t get me wrong. Money is important and I would love to have lots of it as long as it is rightfully mine! I personally believe that the Laws of Nature never rest and will always maintain the universal balance in life.

Every action one does must be based on good faith and good intentions. Not the perfect traits for any politician but I truly believe that eventually honest officials and politicians will prevail.

The people can sense the sincerity and the positive energy emitting from honest politicians and thus give their support and, most importantly, their blessing.

Take the case of the two people who were arrested and are currently being tried for selling iPads without proper Indonesian instruction manuals via the Internet. According to the charges, these people have violated the Consumer Protection Law and Telecommunications Law.

I suspect the original intention of the “sting” operation was to extort free iPads but when the scenario failed to go as planned, the police had no choice but to continue the role as impeccable enforcers of the law while, at the same time, unwittingly becoming the laughing stock of society.

Again, please execute this sting operation in good faith and with good intentions. By doing so, you can read the Consumer Protection Law and other relevant laws with better clarity.

Otherwise, you will be chastised by the same society you are supposed to serve and protect.

Can you imagine, as a result of this case, if I sell my old German car, I will get eight years in prison because the manual is in German! What kind of society are we creating who fear the arbitrary use of criminal charges by their government?

This country has serious problems and needs serious people to resolve them. Every day we read about a government busy with its internal strife but hardly any news about its achievements in running the country. The time has come to stop all this nonsense.

No more comedians or pseudo-intellectuals getting valuable air time on television, expressing their absurd opinions. No more people with lack of integrity holding high offices. No more indecisiveness from our leaders.

We need to bring back honest politicians, honest law enforcers and honest people and I truly believe the day will come when this country shall again be a great and respected country as it is destined to be!

To answer the preacher’s question, ill-gotten wealth can never be considered as good fortune (rezeki) because you will lose it as easily as you stole it.

God Bless Indonesia!

The writer is a graduate of the School of Law, University of Indonesia, and currently working in the telecommunications sector.

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