The pot is calling ...
If I had had more time this week, and if Blogger
hadn't been buggering around last night, I would have potentially broken the law, of Canada that is. As a Brit living in Indonesia (and as Jakartass) this would not have bothered me in the slightest. As it is, as of yesterday you are now at liberty to read the following.
On Tuesday, I was tipped off that a Canadian blogger, Captain Ed
, had been ordered to take down stuff on legal grounds, felt bad about it, then saw that it was on prominent display on USA blogs, so recanted, and reposted it.
The story concerned a political scandal involving the Public Works Ministry, a government effort called the Sponsorship Program, and allegations of corruption in the ruling Liberal Party
(which) has Canada abuzz with rumours of payoffs, Mob ties, and snap elections.
For the last two years, Canadian politics has been gripped by the so-called "sponsorship scandal" - tens of millions of dollars in government contracts which were funnelled into advertising firms closely connected with the Liberal government for little or no work, but with shadowy rumours that much of the money found its way back into Liberal coffers.
Prime Minister Paul Martin, himself a Liberal, appointed the Gomery Commission to investigate these charges and determine whether to bring charges against government officials for corruption and malfeasance.
In the interests of free speech, particularly where it concerns political skulduggery, I passed on the story to Chris Myrick
, a Canadian who resides in the Asian blogosphere. In his post, he ponders the legality of publishing material outside the country which has put a ban on its publication, especially as his server is in Canada.
The publication ban has now been lifted on at least some of the testimony being given to Justice Gomery. This means that Canadian citizens can now learn in their mainstream media about the scandal. One reason that the ban was lifted must have been because it was not possible to keep the lid on the story once it had been exposed by (Captain) Edward Morrissey in his blog and, through interviews with him, by American newspapers.... the kettle
What Jakartass finds particularly intriguing is that foreign media continue to hammer Indonesia and other 'developing' countries for their pernicious corruption as if they have clean hands.
The latest 'scandal' here involves the purchase of a villa in Geneva
to house Indonesia's ambassador to the United Nations. On Monday, the government repudiated a report
in a Swiss newspaper that tsunami relief funds were diverted.
To you and me, US$8.1 million for a house may seem excessive, but then we are not ambassadors, the house belongs to Indonesia and will, presumably, increase in value, and its purchase was approved in the 2004 state budget. Unfortunate timing, maybe, but so are all earthquakes and tsunamis.
Besides, international bodies, lending agencies and civil society has
(sic) been working together to set up measures to ensure the tsunami aid reaches its intended targets.... black
Of course, corruption is endemic here. The suspended Aceh Governor Abdullah Puteh, on trial for allegedly marking up the price of a Russian helicopter by almost Rp.11 billion ($1.16 million), has now been accused of embezzling a further Rp.4.13 billion to pay for his high-priced team of hotshot lawyers.
Puteh's lawyers are among the country's most expensive, including Muhammad Assegaf, O.C. Kaligis, Juan Felix Tampubolon and Rocky Waworuntu.
They also serve the Suharto family.Footnote
The UK, which will hold a general election on May 5th, has its own scandal involving Birmingham city councillors who organised forgery and corruption, through a campaign of bribery, death threats and intimidation in order to manipulate postal votes in last June's local elections.
Indonesian residents, local and expat alike, will recognize this scenario, especially if they care to note that the police, whose visit came on the night before the poll closed, remained remarkably unsuspicious.