Corruption in Indonesian Culture – Post D

The Cameo Project is a collective of Indonesian youtube stars who aim to “inspire” and “give positive impacts” though their videos – according the the google translate version of their page. One of these videos, entitled “JOKOWI DAN BASUKI” with Eng Subs – “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction [PARODY] deals with the widespread and inherent corruption. This video was originally published in Indonesian in 2012, as Joko Widodo was rising in power and popularity as a change making politician. (However, as I write this the morning of the executions on Nusakambangan prison island I don’t see the same hope in this President as the world saw in 2012)

This interest in corruption really stems from my personal experience of Indonesia as a child, hearing stories about corruption in every aspect of life. We lived in Jakarta during the fall of Suharto, where riots were common and evacuation plans were necessary. During our 5 year stint in the country, we were evacuated three times, required to keep large sums of US dollars in our safe in case we needed to bribe our way out. As someone who has now grown up primarily in Australia this notion of such close by corruption is really interesting to me.

The everyday corruption portrayed in the video is interesting to consider, corruption is such a huge part of Indonesian culture, it is built into society and government structures, in fact, 8 in 10 Indonesians would say that corruption is widespread [Gallup, 2011]. I decided to look into this issue to try and understand why this is the case. The World Bank does significant research and work in helping countries to tackle corruption, and whilst there are a myriad of reasons why corruption occurs, on suggestion was that officials may be “compensating, in some cases, for inadequate salaries” [The World Bank, 1997].

Another consideration in this cultural issue is Indonesia’s recent history. Having been under the highly corrupt dictatorship of Suharto for 30 years until 1998, centralised corruption was part of the economy. Under Suharto’s regime corruption didn’t actually affect the economic growth greatly because the corruption occurred at high level which meant that it could be predicted and built into business dealings in the country [Kuncoro, 2008]. Interestingly, a reported conducted by Inside Indonesia in 2007 found that decentralized corruption, rather than the centralised corruption is “more detrimental to economic efficiency” because there is a “higher total level of bribes” [Kuncoro, 2008]. However, even with the change (overthrowing) of government in the 2000s corruption at high levels continued, with the 2004 ‘anti-corruption’ president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono even being found to use his power to falsely frame anti-corruption officials in the lead up to his election [JC, 2011].

So essentially, corruption is fairly normal in Indonesia. Though this blog might sound like a negative attack on Indonesia, it really isn’t. Its just interesting to see how different countries function at higher levels and where corruption sits in this. Australia is by no means immune to this economic ill, and while in 2010 we had a low corruption score of 2.28 compared to Indonesia’s 8.32, according to the PERC poll [Han, 2010], I suspect we would be looking far worse in 2015 considering the ICAC and Integrity Commission being conducted at the moment.


  • Gallup 2011, Corruption Continues to Plague Indonesia, Gallup, Abu Dhabi.
  • Han, B. 2010, ‘Corruption worsens in Indonesia: survey’, The Sydney Morning Herald, (Breaking News World), March 9, 2010.
  • J C 2011, ‘Corruption in Indonesia
    Slow To Shame  ‘, The Economist, (Asia), May 26th 2011.
  • Kuncoro, A. 2008, ‘Corruption Inc’, Inside Indonesia, .
  • The World Bank 1997, Helping Countries Combat Corruption: The Role of the World Bank, The World Bank, .

Waste Management in Friedburg, Germany – Post B

The government of Freiburg in Germany has designed a waste management program that is based on the principles of waste reduction, waste recovery and environmentally considered disposal.

Waste going to landfill is reduced by a thoughtful household sorting, with four bins in each dwelling for kitchen and garden waste, paper and plastic recycling and landfill. The kitchen and garden wastes are composted so they can be reintroduced into the farming and gardening systems preventing them from entering landfill unnecessarily. This waste sorting system has reduced landfill from 140,000 tonnes a year in 1988 to 50,000 tonnes in 2000. It sounds weird, but even the existing closed landfill contribute to waste reduction. The methane produced in the decomposition process of the landfills is captured to power a heating and power station that supplies Freiburg. This in turn reduces the need for fossil fuel produced power, thus reducing the subsequent air pollution waste that would occur through traditional power production. The need for heating and general energy consumption in the home is reduced by government supported home insulation schemes and energy efficiency retrofits, thus reducing energy production and waste.

Air pollution is reduced in other ways too. There are over 500km of bike paths in Freiburg and over 5000 bike parking spaces in the city, but the infrastructure doesn’t just get built then not used (like in Sydney), one third of all journeys made by locals are by bicycle. Car traffic is reduced in areas around the city by making the old town centre car free in 1973 and the public transport system has buses which reach 90% of residents. The introduction of an low cost, flat rate, monthly bus ticket has increased use of public transport by 100% from 1980 to 1991. All these measures to reduce private, fossil fuelled transport reduce the air pollution waste produced.

The waste management system in Freiburg, Germany is complex and intricate. It is established and run by the government and is dependent on government endorsement and support. This may not be possible for NGOs to carry out in individual countries but parts of it could be taken and applied to smaller communities to achieve similar results on a smaller scale.

ICLEI 2014, Member in the Spotlight Freiburg, Germany ICLEI, European Union, viewed 26/04/2015 2015, < spotlight/archive/freiburg/>.

Petith, T. 2014, Sustainable City – Freiburg, SolarRegion Freiburg, viewed 05/26 2015, <>.

Interview with Louise Williams about the natural environment in Indonesia – Post C

Louise Williams was the foreign correspondent in Indonesia for The Sydney Morning Herald from 1996 – 1999.

“Indonesia is very beautiful country naturally but under a lot of pressure environmentally. From an aesthetic point of view you see a lot of design and architecture really reflects the great value people put on the natural environment. But the same token it’s being destroyed on a wholesale scale. Java, where Jakarta is located, is the most densely populated island on earth.”

The traditional art forms of Indonesia are informed by the natural environment, “All batik colours came from naturally derived dyes and the process is in sync with the natural environment.” However, these art forms are becoming less removed from the traditional process as the landscape of Indonesia changes. “Mass urbaisation [means] people have moved out of the rural areas. Huge areas of the country very badly damaged environmentally and even the areas that are ‘reserves’ you would find they are not kept in a way we would understand a national park in [Australia]. No one seeks to go out and say, ‘I’m going to go out and degrade my environment.’ But it comes out of really short sighted thinking. And it’s also driven by need. The corrupt power elite, who get a concession to sell timber, so they get the poor land owners to sell them their land for a lump sum and the forest is gone.”

“[There are ] a lot of problems associated with deforestation like erosion, all the top soil is removed and the little people end up worse off. Even though there have been a lot of programs with Western countries essentially paying Indonesia not to log their land, recognising that the driving force is need, those have all been corrupted so that the people who actually get the money are not the people on the ground who need it but the bigger companies. There are some national parks and eco tourism ventures, but its only tiny little pockets of change.”

There are some ways that positive change is occurring though, “One of the good things that CIFOR [Centre for International Forestry Research] does is provide information. One of the things that they do is work with the people at all levels to devise solutions, to preserve forests. Recognising the reality of how things are.”

And the international community is getting involved in logging for palm plantations, “Really big brands are promising not to use palm oil because of the huge consumer backlash all over the world because of the impact of palm oil.”

But making change remains difficult overall “because corruption is so entrenched. The instinct to survive [sits] over the instinct to allow other people to have a good life.

There is very much still a power struggle between the power elite and what they call the “orang kecil” the ‘little people’ who are really losing out in terms of the environment.


Williams, L. (2015) Interviewed by Elowyn Williams Roldan, 29 April 2015.

World Population Review 2014, Indonesia Population 2014  , viewed 29/04 2015, <>.

Design for a Better Environment in Jakarta – Post A

Design is always a response to the problem or the context of the situation. In Jakarta, design is being used to deal with the rising problem of air pollution.

Air pollution is a huge issue with levels of lead, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide rising [Maulia, 2014]. These pollutants have a concerning impact on human health when inhaled, lead causing brain and nervous system damage, nitrogen dioxide affecting the lungs and carbon monoxide causing heart issues and blood poisoning.

Those are all the scary facts about the problem of air pollution, so what is casing it? Jakarta is quite a harsh city to live in, it’s a high-rise city built in a tropical location with varying weather, high temperatures and a lot of people. Part of the issue is definitely transport and inefficiently running cars.


Contributing to air pollution in Jakarta is the high rise office and apartment buildings across the city which require a great amount of electricity to run. Director of education ad training for the Green Building Council of Indonesia, Rana Yusuf Nasir, goes so far as to say that the “building sector had the greatest potential of any other sector for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, responsible for climate change”. Air-conditioning is the main contributor to energy use, 55% in fact [Arditya, 2015] so reducing that usage would reduce energy production needs and pollution out put from cooling systems.

Its only takes simple architectural decisions to greatly reduce the energy consumption of a building such as double glazed glass and LED which reduce heat within buildings. These seem like fairly minor green decisions but can greatly reduce energy consumption.

One design solution that combats both the issue of air pollution and heavy traffic in Jakarta is the the Transjakarta Busway. This busway works like a railway, with dedicated lanes to drive past the traffic (and heavy enough fines that people road users don’t try to use the bus lanes), overpass walkways to allow passengers to cross to the bus system safely without holding up traffic [Transjakarta, 2013]. The busway is also airconditioned which makes it appealing for city workers who can afford the slightly more expensive fare. The traffic problem in Jakarta is so great that this type of bus system was invested into with great results. Sydney would also benefit from such a system but maybe the problem isn’t great enough to force city designers to come up with a solution.

Jakarta is a highly populated city with all the problems of densely populated places, but through design they are dealing with and combatting these issues to create a better, more liveable city.

Arditya, A. 2015, ‘Saving and Shaving Costs With Greener Buildings’, The Jakarta Post, (Feature), Sun, February 08 2015, 9:41 AM.

Maulia, E. 2014, ‘Jakarta’s Air Quality Takes a Toxic Turn for The Worse’, The Jakarta Globe, May 09, 2014.

Transjakarta 2013, Information Services, PT Transport Jakarta, Jakarta, Indonesia, viewed 26/05/2015 2015, .