Insight & Analysis

Dealing with the weight of debt, literally

Published: Sep 2018

When a bill has to be settled does it matter how it is settled?

An Indonesian civil servant accused of missing years of alimony payments to his ex-wife and totalling around US$10,500 has finally paid up – in coins.

Dwi Susilarto rolled up at court with a couple of friends pushing a wheelbarrow loaded with a dozen sacks filled with 153m rupiah in small change. The sacks weighed in at around 890kg.

Accusations that this was intended to insult ex-wife Hermi Setyowati led to a heated debate and the near-exchange of blows between 54-year-old Susilarto and his ex-wife’s lawyer who had refused to count the money.

It was explained that Susilarto’s low public-service salary had forced him to borrow from friends after the court in the Central Javanese town of Karanganyar ordered him to pay back nine years’ worth of unpaid alimony.

“I was honestly surprised too but my client said the money was donated by friends and family who gave most of it to him in coins,” said Susilarto’s lawyer. “There was no intention to insult anyone – that’s all he has.”

Somewhat aggrieved by the gesture, Setyowati eventually accepted the funds. “This is insulting – it’s like calling me poor,” she told local media.

The court ordered its staff to count the money.

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