Silenced voices: If I were Gayus Tambunan

The Jakarta Post | Sun, 01/23/2011 12:01 PM | Discover

The Greek philosopher Plato said that the arts reflect the society. He said artists are, by nature, influenced by the people around them and that the best artwork serves as a voice of its source society. Plato’s centuries-old argument about the creation of art rings familiar to us today.
It is a badly kept secret that those with money can buy justice. A blatant example is Gayus H. Tambunan, a tax officer suspected for corruption. While he was in police detention, he traveled not only to Bali to watch a tennis game but also overseas: Singapore, Macau and Kuala Lumpur.
Worse still, there is no action from the government. The number-one person in Indonesia did order officials to work on the case swiftly, and they have, but there is still no progress. People believe that the mafia rules Indonesia and nobody can stop it.
When justice is for sale and there is no law and order, artwork becomes the voice of the people. During the authoritarian regime of Soeharto, songwriter/singer Iwan Fals was the people’s hero. His ballads articulated social problems when everyone else was silenced by their fear of the regime’s muscle.
The latest YouTube phenomenon is Bona Paputungan with his song Andai Aku Gayus Tambunan (If I were Gayus Tambunan). The video clip shows an inmate bribing his way out of jail for a break and some leisure time.
A former convict himself, Bona’s song tells the public there is differing treatment in prison between inmates with money and the rest. He questioned how Gayus could go on a vacation while the majority of others couldn’t even imagine such a thing. In short, Bona’s song asks for equal treatment in jail. It says that no one above the law. Bona is a voice of the commoners seeking justice, of those with common sense who think that corrupt police, prosecutors, judges and immigration officers should be punished.
Just as Plato explained to his disciples, arts are the mirror of the society. When Indonesia’s legal viability is defeated and the mafia rules the country, the people turn to the arts to magnify their voices. The need of a channel to voice their protests made Andai Aku Gayus Tambunan a hit on the Internet.
The effect has not gone unnoticed, as Bona received a death threat from a person claiming to be a member of police special forces who wanted the song taken off from the Internet. People mustn’t let their voices be silenced again.

Ferril Irham Muzaki
Faculty of Letters
State University of Malang

Letter: Should we thank Gayus?

| Tue, 11/23/2010 9:44 AM | readers forum

A hero is a person who gives great contributions to society. It is stated under the constitution that a hero should struggle for freedom, nation and the people. A hero’s efforts contribute to the betterment of society. Gayus is a person who has made a contribution to society. In fact, he has made three.

As a judicial mafia suspect, Gayus exposed a major tax scandal. Before the Gayus scandal was publicly exposed, there were only a rumors about corruption in our tax system. Nobody could prove it, but after Gayus’ confession, the public knows there is something wrong with our tax system.

Gayus told the public about companies who don’t pay tax. He identified people involved in tax scandals. This is the first step to reforming the tax system in Indonesia.

Because of Gayus, mafia in our legal system is now clearly known by the  public. He told the  public who received bribes in the National Police, in the Attorney General’s Office and in the courts. What Gayus has been doing so far is implicating our legal system. It is now society that must force change to eradicate the underground legal mafia.

Gayus’ vacation to Bali might be just a trick to open another mega scandal. As commoners know, Gayus told the public that he met an important man in politics and economics. That person, Gayus said, is powerful person in Indonesia. By meeting that person, Gayus opened public eyes to a “love triangle” between politics, money and law. Thanks Gayus, for exposing that scandal.

By exposing the tax scandal, highlighting corruption in our legal system and potentially opening a major political scandal, we have to recognize Gayus as a hero. What he does opens our eyes to the reality that there is something wrong with our tax system. If we disagree with regarding him as a hero, at least Gayus is still a hero for corruptors and mafia.

Ferril Irham Muzaki
Malang, East Java


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