Indonesia is one of the most corrupt societies in the world. This is not a hoax, it is the reality of years of mismanagement, centralised power arrangements and lack of check and balance processes. The fight against corruption has been well under way for a while, and on different  fronts.

Foreign donors are requesting greater accountability and transparency as terms and condition of any programs implemented in the country; government departments are introducing policies and procedures demanding a more responsible civil service; and international organisations are assisting with the development and implementation of governance structures aimed at establishing a more responsive bureaucracy accessible to all people.

Corruption is also fought at street level with many people taking a concerted stand against participating in any type of illegal, fraudulent or corrupt behaviours. This is not an easy task in a society where underhand methods are not only a way of life, but a necessity for the vast majority of people needing to get by in many of their day to day chores. Sometimes it isn’t a case of slipping an envelope to jump the long queue, but a way of having even the slightest chance of getting something done, as getting a drivers license or a legal document.

The curse of corruption is well documented—enriching some while impoverishing others, discriminating against the poor, women and the disadvantaged , corroding trust in public institutions, making a mockery of the legal system and stifling the democratic processes, just to name a few of the maladies tormenting societies. So, it isn’t surprising that activists and advocates for a more just society are using everything at their disposal to inch away at this scourge.

Among those committed to seeing changes to a more transparent way of life in Indonesia is the community of Linux users. The Linux system is the most widely available open source computer operating system in the world and a base for a global community of software developers and users, availing to the masses free software with similar capacities to the expensive and commercially available varieties.

Amir Dayyan of KPLI, the Linux Activists User Group in Aceh, explains that the movement in Indonesia, and specifically in Aceh, is not simply aiming at making available open source operating systems and software to the people because it is free, thus allowing people to use their money for other needs, such as health and education. But it allows people to comply with the Islamic values of not engaging in illegal or fraudulent behaviours, which is the natural downfall of unlawful downloads or exchanges of pirated software.

The Aceh group has been operating since 1998 and comprises about 100 enthusiastic members volunteering their time to educate people on the advantages of open source software and lawful practices, while opposing the big corporations that make software expensive and inaccessible to the people.

The Aceh chapter of the KPLI can be accessed by emailing their chairperson Naga at naga.jose@aceh.linux.or.id

Fotos: Aceh Linux Activists; ’11