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Dress for excess? Uniforms mark Indonesia’s corrupt

In a bid to shame this Southeast Asian country's legions of corrupt politicians, officials, bankers and businessmen, the country's anti-graft agency has come up with a novel solution: special uniforms for the bribers and the bribed.
/ Source: TODAY staff and wire

In a bid to shame Indonesia's legions of corrupt politicians, officials, bankers and businessmen, the country's anti-graft agency has decided they should wear special uniforms that would include the person's name, case number, and "detainee of the Corruption Eradication Agency" emblazoned on the back.

Few details of this proposed dress code for the corrupt have emerged yet, but suggestions include bright colors — preferably pink or orange, so that the offenders stand out from the crowd in prison or in court — or old-fashioned prison stripes.

“When we put a detainee in jail, the detainee will be seen by others,” said M. Jasin, deputy chairman of the agency, who hopes this will embarrass the often un-embarrassable.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was elected in 2004 on promises to tackle rampant graft in a country that regularly ranks among the world's most corrupt.

Barely a day goes by without news of some bigwig being caught, sometimes red-handed, or carrying a briefcase with a large sum of cash.

If letters to newspaper reader forums are any example, the general public is tired of the lack of progress on this front, and the lack of a shame gene among the elite.

Some have even written to the local papers suggesting that the death sentence, which is given to murderers and some drugs offenders, should be handed down to the most corrupt.

Central bankers, ministers, and members of parliament are among those who have been questioned or are being investigated for such offences, but the prospect of being caught and tried does not seem to act as a serious deterrent.

Hence the idea of an outfit in a country where many big firms require their employees, from the CEO down, to sport an official company uniform. But some say even this won't work.

“Indonesian corruptors are shameless. They get their names and deeds splashed in the press all the time, and no one cares,” said Jeffrey Winters, associate professor at Northwestern University in the United States.

“The only thing that works in fighting corruption is consistent, non-political prosecutions and jail time starting at the very top.”