Taking govt vehicles on the holiday exodus is 'wrong'

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has said that the use of government cars for Idul Fitri holiday travel is tantamount to corruption and it encouraged government agencies to ban such practices.

"Government officials who carry out this practice should be ashamed of themselves," KPK deputy chairman Busyro Muqoddas said on Wednesday.

Several government agencies as well as local administrations have issued policies that allow officials to use government cars for their holiday trips, including Surakarta municipality in Central Java, Padang municipality in West Sumatra, Bekasi regency in West Java, Sidoarjo regency in East Java and the Jakarta administration.

The local administrations claimed they had consulted with the KPK prior to issuing their policies.

The use of government facilities funded by central and local government budgets for personal interests was against the law and violators could charged with corruption, Busyro said.

"Those are government cars that have been procured to ease their duties in providing public service, not for their personal interests," he added.

The central government earlier issued a ban on official vehicles from using subsidized fuel.

The KPK informed all central and local government institutions to not allow their personnel to use government cars for their holiday trips.

"It's wrong if the institutions let them use government cars. We already called them but we need support from each institution. People can report to us or even the media," he said.

Home Ministry spokesman Restuardy Daud said his office had thrown its weight behind the KPK's call and had urged local governments to crackdown on such practices.

The ministry will not allow government officials to use official cars but it said that there would be no punishment should violations persist.

"Our policy is clear, we don't allow such practices. However, we don't have any authority over local administrations on this matter. Therefore, we urge DPRD's [local legislative councils] to conduct an oversight on local governments.

Busyro on Wednesday also criticised government officials who asked for "holiday bonuses" from private entities.

"We are talking about morality here. Don't expect to get bonuses or gifts," he said.

He said that all government officials should refrain from asking for bonuses or gifts. "This should not only apply to high-ranking officials but to all officials who serve the public," he said.

It has been a local tradition for Muslims to exchange gifts with friends and colleagues.

According to the 2001 Anti-Corruption Law, public officials must report all Idul Fitri gifts to the KPK within 30 days of receiving the gifts. The KPK will then determine whether the gifts are meant as bribes. Failure to report a gratuity could lead to four to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of Rp 1 billion (S$123,000).

The KPK recently deemed sexual favors as bribes if they were given in connection with the public officials' position or if they failed to report the favors within 30 days of receiving them, citing that it had found the practice did exist.

The KPK made the argument based on the Anti-Corruption Law, which stipulates that gratuities can be found in various and irregular forms. Gratuity, according to the law, includes money, goods, discounts and price cuts, travel tickets, lodging facilities, and other forms of gifts or facilities.