TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - For Herman, passing Indonesia`s `bar exam` in 2014 has its own challenge. He was determined to become an `honest` lawyer, despite his full awareness that staying `clean` in the field of law would prove to be difficult. He also never had the desire to receive and give bribery, nor to defend corruption suspects.
"It’s true that there’s the presumption of innocence principle, but I’d feel a moral burden if I [had to] defend corruption suspects," he said in August.
Herman says he has wanted to become an upright attorney since he was a law student at the Syiah Kuala University in Aceh. But his sense of integrity grew even stronger when, in 2012-2013, he studied at the SAKA (Sekolah Antikorupsi - anti-corruption school) pioneered by the Anti-Corruption Movement (Gerak), a non-profit organization based in the Darul Imarah subdistrict, Aceh Besar Regency. Herman learned about SAKA from one of his seniors at the university, who happened to be an alumnus of the program.
SAKA’s anti-corruption training lasts one year. Within that one year, students receive classroom teaching every Saturday for six months and the remaining time is spent on field practice. During his field practice, Herman reviewed operational funds assistance for students (BOS) at a number of middle and high schools in Aceh Besar and the city of Banda Aceh. To obtain the data, he first sent a request letter to the local education office. "We were armed with Law No. 14/2008 on freedom of information," said Herman.
But SAKA students are not only tasked with reviewing suspected budget mismanagement or corruption. They are also asked to report their findings to relevant regional working units (SKPD) as well as to raise awareness on corruption. Herman found this last task difficult because of some people’s narrow understanding of corruption as acts that cause financial losses to the state. Meanwhile, corrupt acts, such as ‘tipping’ government employees for administrative work, are still perpetuated.
According to Herman, SAKA’s training has not only reset his perception but has also strengthened his dream to play his part in eradicating corruption. "In my opinion, corruptors are just as evil as those who violate human rights," he said. "They (corruptors) don’t only cause material losses to the state, but also injure the people’s psyche."
This is why upon graduating from SAKA, Herman applied to work at the Banda Aceh Legal Aid Institute and has worked there since 2014. He wants to consistently advocate for the marginalized as well as to investigate a number of neglected government projects in Aceh.
Additionally, Herman continues to share the knowledge he gained at SAKA at a number of open discussions held by the Legal Aid Institute. "I want more and more people to detect and avoid corruption, whatever the form is," he explained.