Local dealers

More than half of 524 local leaders in Indonesia are or have been embroiled in corruption cases, an official said Friday.

At least 318 governors, district chiefs, mayors and their deputies across the archipelago have been named corruption suspects, Djohermansyah Djohan, director general of regional autonomy at the Home Affairs Ministry, was quoted as saying by the state news agency Antara.

He said the number of local leaders arrested for corruption had increased sharply since the introduction of direct elections for governors, district chiefs and mayors nine years ago.

“Under the current system, regional leaders are prone to going to jail,” he was quoted as saying.

“That’s why we in the government are drafting a new bill regulating local elections,” he said.

Before 2005, local leaders were elected by regional legislative bodies.

Fears that Indonesia would disintegrate after the fall autocratic president Suharto in 1998 prompted the country to devolve powers to the regions, handing decision-making powers and billions of dollars in tax revenues to local leaders.