Civilian: “How long will this take?”
Bureaucrat: “Two weeks or ten working days.”
I’ve had that mantra repeated to me for the past fifteen months, of which I’ll say more later.
I visited Bank Indonesia to deposit a letter requesting an urgent meeting. Naturally I should have remembered that bureaucrats clock in and clock out as if they are metronomes, so I shouldn’t have gone there twenty minutes before noon – lunch time.
“Send an email,” I was advised.
So I did, and this was what I received by return …
Four months later I received the letter notifying me about the requested meeting – it gave sufficient advance notice, but took three days to cross town by courier. A legless war veteran would have been quicker.
The meeting I requested took place ahead of a ‘Fasilitasi’. I’d wanted to know if that would be a waste of time … and so it proved thanks to a mixture of ‘alternative facts’ offered without proof. That the one piece of photographic ‘evidence’ produced verified what I’d been saying for over a year was not taken into consideration. Nor were the many possible alternative scenarios.
(The details of my unfinished saga are sub judice for now.)
“To see the self as deceiving itself has seemed the only way to explain what might otherwise be incomprehensible – a person’s failure to acknowledge what is too obvious to miss.”
Bok, 1989, p. 60 (pdf)
While there has been a rush to explain and remedy the unethical corporate practices that now seem commonplace, one of the newest entrants – the psychological processes behind unethical decision making – appears to be the most promising.
This is all a bit academic for Jakartass, but labelling this process as Ethical Fading* makes it a bit clearer. However, given that research into it goes back at least fifty years, and that it is prevalent in most countries now, does lttle to encourage hopes for the future. We regularly hear about this service and that going online, but it must not be forgotten that there’s someone at the far end and all you might have saved are a few hours stuck in traffic.
And that’s time spent downloading forms, printing them, realising that 2mm high boxes for your name and address are w-a-a-y too narrow, and that you’ve then got to scan the completed forms, print them as a pdf file and send them back. But the internet is down, and when it isn’t, you haven’t got the bandwidth.
So you telephone, talk to a bot … oh, and hang-it-all … you go to the office, request a meeting, and are told to send an email … which is received by a Customer Care Centre and you get an automated reply like the one above.
*The easily digestible master’s degree thesis is focussed on the corporate world, and there is a substantial difference between corporate employees and civil servants. My last post highlighted the ‘me first’ attitude among the supposedly civil servants. This, thankfully, is slowly undergoing a change in mindset through the efforts of some regional governors and the national government. However, the corporate world in Indonesia is slow to acknowledge the need to service its customer/client base.
There was a time when wronged and uncompensated consumers would get results from a letter to the print media. However, newspapers now have a much lower circulation and face stiff competition from online social media. Here in Indonesia online complainants about bad service are liable to be sued for defamation.
fr. this page
In 2008, Indonesia issued a Law on Electronic Information and Transactions (“Law No. 11 of 2008”). In Article 27 paragraph 3 in conjunction with Article 45 paragraph 1, and Article 36 in conjunction with Article 51 paragraph 2 Law No. 11 of 2008 has criminal sanctions for defamation on the internet, which is 6 years’ imprisonment, or 12 years’ imprisonment, if the defamation causes harm or losses to others.
In implementing Law No.11 of 2008, most Indonesian cyber law practitioners and scholars have related such provisions to Article 310 of the Indonesian Criminal Code (“KUHP”) specifically Article 310 paragraph 1, which reads: “Whoever intentionally harms a person’s honor or reputation with an accusation about a specific matter with a real intention to publish such accusation shall be sentenced for defamation to nine months of imprisonment and a fine of Rp 4,500.”
I won’t therefore name the ‘customer’, the bank or its branch where she sought a loan to meet immediate needs. With a land certificate as collateral, she filled in the forms and then waited the requisite two (plus one) weeks. Not having heard back, she returned to the branch where she was told that the loan had been refused because she was older than 55, the cut off point.
Now why wasn’t she told that immediately on her first visit?
I can only surmise that complacency and prevarication are written in to job descriptions, along with fake smiles.
Corporate staff have less job security, and are also prepared to change companies for a higher salary. They are also employed to protect the bottom line, the profits which are proffered to shareholders, the priority stakeholders within the company. Those of us not prepared to gamble on the stock exchange are often viewed and treated as fools to be fobbed off with advertorials extolling Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes and Buy Five, Get One Free promotions.
There is a Consumer Protection Law (pdf), Law No.8 1999, but it is little known among the populace, and its terms are blithely ignored as there is too little in the way of an infrastructure to enforce consumer rights.
Consumer Dispute Settlement Boards (Badan Penyelesaian Sengeta Konsumen – BPSK) were established by Presidential Decree No. 90 of 2001. Their decisions are final and binding on both parties, although they are “committed to resolve the problems of consumers on the basis of win-win solution.” They can only rule on “compensation directly experienced by consumers due to the fault or negligence of businesses.” Immaterial compensation, i.e. other losses incurred as a consequence of the business’ fault or negligence cannot be handled by BPSK.
These eleven – if there are more, please let me know – Bandung, Central, North and West Jakarta, Makassar, Medan, Semarang, Palembang, Surabaya, Yogyakarta and Malang, which was inaugurated on August 18, 2016 – appear to average a dozen settlements a month. After sixteen years, one would have expected a lot more.
Yayasan Lembaga Konsumen Indonesia (YLKI) is the national consumers organisation and was established as far back as May 11th 1973. They say that their main activities are mainly in the form of study, research, survey, education and publishing, advocacy, seminar, empowerment of the consumer society, and development and community assistance. They have limited resources, seek public donations and operate out of a backstreet house in south Jakarta and are staffed by young interns, albethey law graduates. Therefore, in terms of helping consumers get redress they can only offer advice. Find them on Facebook here.
Is there a conclusion?
There will be in my personal saga, but I can no longer describe myself as an “unashamed idealist”. I doubt that society will change in time to prevent the catastrophic events reducing humanity to pre-industrial revolution lifestyles. Rising sea-levels, the 20 million facing famine and starvation in Somalia, the proxy wars which lead to arms races are upon us now … and the process of turning us into consuming sheep began nearly 100 years ago …