Why Rafael and son Mario may be the best thing to happen to Sri Mulyani

We all know Sri Mulyani. She is one of the very few very capable Ministers and a person of impeccable integrity.

On taking office she has strived to professionalize the Finance Ministry and today it is one of the best Ministries in Indonesia. It is no easy feat because the culture of corruption, entitlement and impunity is so endemic in Indonesia.

There must have been times when she wished she could play hardball with all the recalcitrants in her ministry, clear the deck, but she’s had to restrain herself and maybe close an eye to all but the most serious transgressions because she still had to keep the ministry functioning and the cultural aversion of Indonesians to avoid tough measures.

Now, however, lies a great opportunity for her. The arrogance, sense of entitlement and indiscretion of Mario, a son of a high ranking tax official Rafael has laid bare the can of worms squirming, not only in her ministry but by implication, the worms in the whole government bureaucracy.

The top civil servants that report to her now has to answer to her why, on their watch, 13,000 of their employees who are charged with getting the public to report their taxes, have not done so. They also have to explain to her the systemic failure that has allowed its top officials (and presumably down the line) to amass such wealth that is beyond the means afforded by their salaries.

The public outcry over this incident actually will give her the the excuse she needed to clean house. And knowing her track record, she will.

One can only hope her actions will act like a contagion infecting the rest of the government, triggering an epidemic of house-cleaning.

Goodness knows, we need that in Indonesia today as each day we see instances of impunity and entitlement affronting our sense of fair play. Case after case of entitled children of the high and mighty or themselves flaunting their wealth and power to harass or intimidate others.

Police inaction unless the case goes viral on social media, and even then a papering over the misdeeds with fake contrition on the part of perpetrators and forced forgiveness on the part of the victims.

Let there be a silver lining to this unsavoury affair.

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