BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Chinese Vietnamese Burmese Thai Indonesian
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Asia-Pacific  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 4 September, 2002, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
Is Indonesia's judiciary improving?
Akbar Tandjung arrives at court
Akbar Tandjung's case is seen as a test of the system

Indonesia entered into a better phase of a frequently disappointing democratisation process when a panel of judges sentenced its parliamentary speaker, and the number three in the country, to three years in prison for corruption on Wednesday.


There was a time... when such high-profile defendants would have walked free

Even though Akbar Tandjung received a year less than prosecutors had demanded for his diversion of $4.5m in state funds, it was still a greater penalty than he was expected to receive.

Media polls prior to the verdict showed about 60-70% of the public believed that Tandjung was guilty but would be sentenced to less than his less powerful co-defendants, who were both jailed for 18 months.

Expectations that Indonesia's judiciary is capable of delivering justice have been waning recently.

The Jakarta High Court overturned a guilty verdict against central banker Syahir Sabirin for corruption last month and Indonesia's human rights court in August acquitted several police and army officers over their role in bloodshed in East Timor three years ago.

Public relief

Some of Tandjung's supporters booed the judges as the verdict in his case was read out, but the reaction of the majority of the public has been triumphant.

There has been enormous interest in the case, and many of Jakarta's radio and television stations broadcast the eight-hour hearing live across the country.

However, Tandjung remains a free man for now. He has chosen to appeal the verdict and cannot be jailed until this is completed, a process which could take months.

Meanwhile, Tandjung promises to remain a political player. He has vowed to retain his party and parliamentary seats, and can legally do so until his appeal is over, even though public pressure is mounting for him to resign.

He has also been touted as a possible presidential candidate in the 2004 election.

Drip drip changes

Tandjung has no serious challengers, and as was demonstrated during Wednesday's court hearing, has plenty of supporters. More than 100 Golkar leaders, from both Jakarta and the provinces, attended the session.

Tommy Suharto
Renowned playboy Tommy Suharto was jailed earlier this year

Indonesia's justice system is by no means radically changing. The conviction earlier this year of Tommy Suharto, son of the former president, to only 15 years in jail for the murder of a judge amply demonstrates that.

Nevertheless there was a time - under the previous administrations of Suharto and Sukarno - when such high-profile defendants would have walked free.

As such, the jailing of Akbar Tandjung, the most senior Indonesian official ever on trial since the country's independence, gives reformists cause for hope.

See also:

04 Sep 02 | Asia-Pacific
26 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
20 Aug 02 | Asia-Pacific
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes