A year dismissed as director of Indonesia's state oil company for amassing a $10.6 billion debt and forcing the country to the brink of economic collapse, no legal action has been taken against him.

An investigation into Ibnu's activities as head of Pertamina is said to be under way. But no one in Indonesia, it appears is in any particular hurry. To embarrass a man of Ibnu's stture, or former staure anyway, by causing him to lose face before the world, is just not the Indonesian way.

What is the Indonesian way, and what is being done to Ibnu, may in the long run be more damaging to him than what would have happened under Western justice.

The effervescent physician-turned military officer-turned oil magnate is being isolated professionally and socially, according to several Indonesians who make a point of observing him. Wealthy businessmen and powerful officials who used to pay court to Ibnu are now turning their backs on him.

Tenants are slipping out of his personal headquarters, the Bank Pacific Tower, a magnificent bronze-colored glass and steel office building in the best section of Jalan Thamrin, Jakarta's central business street. The building is now largely vacant.

Othe enterprises in his personal financial empire are losing money, too. As a result of this economic and social ostracism, the wiry, 62-year-old Ibnu is said to be in declining health.

"This is the Indonesian way," said the European-educated editor of one of the capital's major newpapers. "It's a very subtle form of punishment and it may not meet Western standards. But when it's completed, the Indonesian people will have gotten their pound of flesh."

Informed Indonesians accept that the gradual campaign to destroy Ibnu is orchestrated by President Suharto. But some are more cynical than others in assessing Suharto's reasons for moving so slowly.

"The fact is that Suharto does not dare take decisive action against Ibnu," said the chairman of a large timber company. "Although Ibnu kept no books, Suharto and others with him at the top knew damned well what was going on in Pertamina. After all, they got their slice of the pie, too. So, if they put Ibnu on trial, he'd point the finger at every one of them. That's the real reason they've moving so gently."

"We move slowly and politely," said government press director Soekarno. "We don't call a spade a spade. In the case of Ibnu, it would be premature to take action against him before investigations reveal the full impact of the Pertamina problem on the nation's economy and development efforts.

"But the important thing is that our people know what the government is doing. What is even more important, they understand and accept it."

A Western anthropologist who has spent eight years in Indonesia supported Soedarno's claim. "Most people are disgusted with officia1 corruption," he said. "But their disgust doesn't turn to action. Particularly here in Java, they've been conditioned by centuries of mysticism surronding the role of the ancient kings and sultans."

Suharto benefits from this mystical aura and so did his predecessor, President Sukarno. When the army, led by Suharto, overthrew the charismatic Sukarno, it did so in characteristically gradual way. Sukarno's power was eroded from 1965 to 1967. Only in 1968 was Suharto elevated to president.

Sukarno was allowed to live out his remaining years quietly but in useless fashion. When he died, in 1970, he was buried with full state honors.

The need to allow people who fall from high places to save face, while still punishing them, is generally accepted throughout Asia. But the Indonesians have refined the technique. And at a time when popular disgust with corruption among top officials is rising sharply, the government finds it necessary to stress that justice will be done - in the Indonesian way.

"As is evident form the example of Watergate, we in the West demand immediate confrontation and swift results," said a European diplomat. "But the Indonesians don't think that way. Thay're quite willing in fact they insist, to have justice evolve slowly, without embarrassing anyone."

Indonesians, according to a respected social scientist, believe that the concept of "mutual consideration" must extend to public as well as private life. "We must not disturb another person's bathing, the center of a person's being," the professor said, "this causes the evolution of progress to move very slowly."

Thus, the ancient underpinnings of traditional Indonesian society - musjawart (dissussions leading to consensus), mupakat (agreement) and goton rojog (mutual cooperation) - are as significant today as they were in the dim mists of history.

But the scale of financial misdeeds in modern Indonesia have begun to impress growing numbers of people with the realizatin that the old ways of justice may not adequate. In addition, pressures brought by Western governments - particularly the United States - trying to clean their own houses, are making this nation realize that it may have to move more quickly, at least in some cases.

"We don't like coming under these foreign pressures," said a retired and respected diplomat, "but there doesn't seem to be an choice left to us."

This realization is causing the government to establish new norms. A few weeks ago, for example Ibnu's successor, Piet Haryono, announced that Pertamina would begin this year to operate under a budget, set at $3.9 billion.

"I know it's hard to believe," said an American who has assisted Pertamina in a number of its major negotiations, "but until now there's been no budget at all. Under Ibnu, Pertamina was nothing more than a seat-of-the-pants operation."

Some Indonesians in powerful places seem to be beginning to understand that a nation the size of Indonesia, with a population of 130 million, and with enormous potential wealth, must alter some of its traditional standards.

No less a personage than Brig. Gen. Ali Murtopo, the highly influential head of the national intelligence organization, conceded this. Nothing that a number of Western diplomats and businessmen often exercise that extent of corruption here with the claim that Indonesians have a different system of values than Westerners, Ali said.

"Look, a bribe is a bribe, corruption is corruption, whether it's in Jakarta or New York. But the difference is in perception. And our people believe that we're trying to straighten things out. I always admit that there's corruption her. But we are trying to do something about it."