A regent in Indonesia is facing massive scrutiny – and possibly legal repercussions – for essentially awarding himself and his subordinates taxpayers' money for every death from COVID-19 in his region.
Jember Regent Hendy Siswanto last week admitted that he and several top officials from his administration and the region's disaster mitigation agency received a fee of IDR100K (US$6.96) for every COVID-19 death in the regency. The fee was to reward Hendy and his subordinates for their role managing funerals in the East Java regency.
"The fee for every funeral or death was IDR100K, if I'm not mistaken. The total received was more or less IDR70.5 million. That's from the total number of people who died from COVID-19, which was 705," Hendy said.
Hendy claimed that the fee was regulated in a regent's decree, which, as the name suggests, he signed himself in March 2021.
Presumably unaware that he has the power to eradicate such a ridiculous government regulation, Hendy said his decree was merely a continuation of a decree issued by his predecessor, Faida, which was first signed in March 2020.
However, it has since been reported that the decree doesn't actually explicitly contain a clause rewarding officials IDR100K for every COVID-19 funeral, only that all associated costs are to be covered by the regional budget (APBD).
Amid widespread ridicule, Hendy said he and his subordinates have returned all of the money to the region's coffers.
While Hendy has not faced legal consequences as of this article's publication, East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa said yesterday that she is leaving the matter to the authorities, stressing that no official should profit off of COVID-19 handling.