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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
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: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower