Asia Minute: Honest Cop in Indonesia Wins National Recognition

Jun 29, 2016

Awards for bravery and public service are part of the careers of many law enforcement officials around the world. But in one Southeast Asian country, a different sort of award is making headlines. HPR’s Bill Dorman explains in today’s Asia Minute.

In many parts of the world, bribery is part of business as usual.  Sometimes that includes law enforcement officials.  But the government of Indonesia has come up with a novel concept---rewarding honesty—giving national recognition to a policeman who has refused to accept cash bribes.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports a policeman in East Java has become famous for his second job---moonlighting as a trash picker—combing through garbage for recyclables.  That brings him about $5 a day…rounding out his policeman’s salary of $550 a month….although he notes “I could use my uniform to get some money illegally if I want to.”

Like many of his fellow Indonesians, the policeman goes by a single name---Seladi.  And this Friday, Seladi will be honored by Indonesia’s national police chief.  There’s no report of a cash prize to go with the recognition…but a member of Indonesia’s parliament was so impressed with Seladi’s story that he’s contributing HIS monthly salary to the policeman for the rest of the year.

It’s not a lot of money but apparently police in Indonesia are paid better than lawmakers.  Still, Seladi says he’ll gladly accept that additional $420 a month….and use it “for my family, and to pay my debts.”