Palace cleaner goes to jail for stealing pens

INDONESIA HAS more than its share of problems these days, but among the greatest is the crisis of confidence in its justice system. The police are widely despised, corruption is ubiquitous and laws and regulations are routinely flouted by big companies and individuals with powerful connections.

For many Indonesians, it is a fact of life that there are different rules for the rich and for the poor. There have been few better examples than the case of Mulyadi bin Umar Khan, the presidential pen thief.

About the facts of the case, there is no doubt. Until April this year, Mr Mulyadi, 29, was a cleaner at Freedom Palace, the official residence of President B J Habibie. Among his duties was cleaning the office of one of Mr Habibie's aides. It was there, sometime last year, that he first found the pens.

These were no Bic ballpoints, but Mont Blanc fountain pens, used by the President as gifts for newly appointed Indonesian ambassadors. Mr Mulyadi sold nine of them for 2.8 million rupiah (pounds 250), and after pleading guilty this week, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

"The defendant has stolen the pens, which belong to the state," presiding Justice Purwanto observed in his judgment. "In stealing the pens on four different occasions he committed the crime with deliberation." But the case illustrates the gulf separating Indonesia's elite from its poorest citizens.

Before being sentenced, Mulyadi stated that as presidential cleaner he was paid 82,500 rupiah (pounds 7.37) a month - in other words, the retail cost of a Mont Blanc pen (3 million rupiah) was for him equivalent to three years' salary. But his monthly rent alone cost 120,000 rupiah (pounds 10.71), excluding living expenses. "Many presidential palace officials did the same thing, bringing home shirts and wall clocks from the palace," he told the Jakarta Post. "I thought it would be OK to bring home some pens."

Mr Mulyadi might have pointed out that former occupants of Freedom Palace took more than ornaments. During his 32 years in power, Mr Habibie's patron and predecessor, General Suharto, amassed a fortune for himself and his family, selling contracts and franchises to businessmen.

The sums lost to the state byhis actions are incalculable, but the Suharto family riches are estimated in the millions of dollars. More than a year after his fall from power, neither the former president nor any of his cronies have been charged.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Executive

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading and innovative con...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue