The COVID-19 pandemic prevented what would have been a horribly unnecessary misuse of taxpayers' money by the House of Parliament (DPR), whose plan to give each member millions to buy cars backfired spectacularly.
This week, a circular addressed to DPR members dated April 6 leaked to the public, announcing that all 560 lawmakers were due to receive IDR116,650,000 (US$7,207) each on April 7 so they can use the money towards making a down payment on a new car for personal use.
Such an unnecessary incentive for members of an institution deeply distrusted by Indonesians would've sparked outrage in the best of times. But as we're living through a pandemic, DPR seems to have come to its senses – for now – and said that the plan has been delayed.
"The budget has been redirected towards other programs, such as for COVID-19 aid," DPR Secretary General Indra Iskandar told reporters yesterday, as quoted by Detik.
"The proposal has been placed on hold. We don't know yet when [we will wire the money to DPR members]."
The car down payment incentive is actually mandated by a Presidential Decree issued in 2010, which gives the privilege to each DPR member within six months after they are elected. The current batch of lawmakers were elected in October 2019.
Perks like this, and being able to jump to the front of the line for COVID-19 testing (a plan that was also eventually scrapped amid public outrage), is part of the reason why the DPR has such a bad rep in Indonesia.
Lokataru Law and Human Rights Office founder Haris Azhar slammed the car down payment incentive as "inappropriate." "If members of the DPR go to work riding motorcycle taxis, then we can buy them cars. But, as far as I know, they are rich," Haris told Suara.