A HOPE FOR A BETTER ACEH
Foreword from the Secretary General of TI Indonesia
Those who happened to be in Aceh in the first days following the tsunami disaster will be mezmerized with the change happening in this area. If you had been to the remote areas in this province prior to the signing of Helsinski MoU, you will be amazed with the peace now existing in the region. You probably will not notice if you have never been to Aceh. But if you have, you will be able to tell what a blessing it is to see the peace and development in Aceh. Like what Edmund Hussel, a German philosopher, once said," You have to experience something first, before you know the truth".
Five years after the tsunami disaster and 4 years after Helsinski MoU, TI-Indonesia is in the spirit of examining whether the change taking place in Aceh also results in the reduction of corruption. The findings show that the majority of the public is in the opinion that corruption remains a major problem in Aceh. What is important is not how the survey has been conducted, neither is what findings the survey can conclude. The question is rather how we can benefit from the survey and its findings.
First, the findings from 23 districts/cities covered by this survey show that the people of Aceh have put a lot of expectation in their local government and all the development stakeholders. This should not be surprising because like what is mentioned in the study of Philippe Le Billion (2008), post-conflict or post-disaster transition in which vulnerability toward corruption correlates significantly with the people expectation in their government. The governor of Aceh can be said to have been making quick responses by recruiting the provincial government officials through a fit and proper test, by establishing Tim Anti Korupsi Pemerintah Aceh (TAKPA; Aceh Government Anti Corruption Team) to smoothen the coordination necessary to eradicate corruption, etc. This shows that a lot of effort has been made, though many other measures are still needed to be taken to comprehensively address the corruption related problems to guarantee the security and bring welfare to the region.
Second, history notes that Aceh has faced challenges uncomparable to any other regions: it has experienced transition to peace, to welfare and to democracy almost simultaneously in a rather fast tempo. Post-conflict transition toward peace and post-transition toward rehabilitation have been full of loop holes for violation. Although the community figures, government leaders and heads of institutions have been aware of the threats of corruption, the enormous challenges has placed some constraining factors to the initiatives taken to improve the people's welfare. In Aceh's context those factors include, the remaining old bureaucracy, the new political leadership, the slow revitalization of the local institutions in playing the monitoring roles in the transition process, the fragmented condition of the civil society and the rather low capacitity of the monitoring institutions to supervise the flow of such big amount of funds.
On the other hand, the community's position is still ambivalent. In the transition period, there is a room for aspirations. However, merely voicing critical opinions and having expectation are not sufficient.
The fact is, the voices and expectations are only realized as expressions of concerns. There has not been sufficient effort to translate them to the people's full involvement in the process that is taking place. The post conflict trauma, accompanied by threats of terror which are still happening these days have posed barriers to the groups monitoring the development and political process which are being built by many parties in this region. As a result, there has been only a little progress so far.
To understand the findings of the survey which has been conducted by the young people under Aceh Institute, we have to always refer back to this region's history and the current situation. If we try to look into the findings without considering these two things, it is like serving fried banana without providing a cup of Acehnese traditional Ulee Kareeng coffee to go along with it. Serving these two items together will make the food enjoyable and delicious.
All in all, I would like to quote a statement from the spokeperson of Aceh Party,Tgk Adnan Beuransyah, which he made in one of the discussions with the journalists, Aceh's young activists and TI Indonesia. Pursuant to the victory of his party in the legislative election last year, Tgk Adnan Beuransyah declared that, whatever the challenges were, with all the strengths and weaknesses that region has, "it's time to start making real changes to build peace and security in Aceh. And the transition period needs to end."
This survey is expected to provide a reference that will allow people to measure changes that will take place in the future. Hopefully, not long from now, we will be able to realize a better Aceh.
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