Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hotman Paris, Esq. is Honest

about gaming a corrupt legal system in Indonesia. I don't know whether I should be disgusted or just shrug my shoulders. It's not like any of this is surprising or doesn't happen here. At least Hotman Paris Hutapea is openly corrupt, doesn't act like being a lawyer means having to have any ethics, and doesn't hide his wealth and pretend he's a good person and philanthropist like most of the law partners and national politicians pretend to be in this country. And he provides regular gossip fodder to the Indonesians. He's giving back by keeping the masses entertained as Indonesia's Paris Hilton and Kwame Kilpatrick rolled into one.

The New York Times did a profile on Hotman today. Did he change his name to Hotman Paris after becoming a lawyer or was he born to be as slimy as his name sounds?

He is a regular on television gossip shows that link him to one starlet or another. Colleagues may prudently choose to drive conservative cars, to court at least. But Mr. Hutapea hops into his new red Ferrari California — the first one sold in Indonesia, for $630,000 — and parks it right in front of court buildings. To his critics, the car and its owner are a prime symbol of the cancer infecting the legal system; to Mr. Hutapea, the Ferrari amounts to an honest acknowledgment of the system’s imperfections.

“If I say I’m a clean lawyer, I’ll be a hypocrite, that’s all I can say,” he said. “And if other lawyers say they are clean, they will go to jail, they’ll go to hell.”

Not surprisingly, some rival lawyers and watchdog groups have pointed fingers at Mr. Hutapea as the Indonesian government has stepped up efforts to clean up the legal system and rid it of the so-called judicial mafia. In a byzantine world populated by corrupt officials and middlemen, money is often funneled to prosecutors and judges to reduce a charge or tip a verdict.

Asked whether he had ever given money to prosecutors or judges, Mr. Hutapea answered: “I cannot comment on that. I don’t want to comment on that because all I’m saying is that there is no lawyer on earth who is clean. That’s all I can say. I think you know how to make a conclusion from that.”

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