21 March 2003

Fresh Vegetables for Rotten Cops

Indonesian Police Urged to Grow Veggies

“Cash-strapped police shaking down citizens for some of the green stuff is part of daily life in Indonesia. To deter graft, a police chief wants his officers to develop green thumbs instead.

Bogor Police Col. Anton Bachrul Alam said Friday he was encouraging officers to grow tomatoes, lettuce and flowers at home to supplement their often meager income.

‘Their official wages are barely enough to live on. It’s better than extorting people or taking bribes,’ he said.

Alam said a hydrophonics expert would teach officers and their family to grow plants using nutrient solutions rather than soil, making them easier to harvest. A police cooperative will help them sell their crops, he said.

Bogor has about 3,000 policemen who earn on average one million rupiah ($111) per month.

Indonesia’s security forces are notorious for petty graft, running illegal enterprises and taking bribes from drug smugglers and gambling operators.”

Hard to say if this will cut down corruption — there are plenty of rich, well-fed people in the extortion racket. How about some transparency, accountability, or popular oversight to go with the tomatoes and cash?

Still, I love this idea. In addition to the extra income and food, urban gardens have all kinds of environmental and health benefits. And I love the image of hardened cops showing off a proud bouquet of home grown flowers, swapping gardening tips and recipes in the locker room, or picking on the new guy for his clearly inferior eggplants.

>  21 March 2003, 1:48 PM | LINK | Filed in , ,

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