Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Like it or not, the Bank Century case has disturbed President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono`s second-term government especially in carrying out its first 100-day program, and this will likely continue to cost a lot of energy and thoughts even after the end of this year.
The Yudhoyono-Boediono government has not been able to enjoy a honeymoon in the past 60 days of its administration because many problems have emerged, including the alleged framing issue of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the Bank Century case.
Bank Century which collapsed after its assets worth Rp11 trillion were flown and stashed overseas by its owner, Robert Tantular, has sparked continuous public criticism.
After all, Vice President Boediono and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati have been asked by a special House inquiry committee to temporarily `resign` from their positions to enable it to get rid of its psychological burden in carrying out its inquiry into the case at hand.
Boediono was the governor of Bank Indonesia (BI/the central bank) when the ailing Bank Century was bailed out by the government by Rp6.7 trillion late in 2008. Sri Mulyani was then finance minister.
According to the State Audit Board there were violations had been allegedly committed in the disbursement of the bailout fund. Moreover, the initial bailout amount discussed with the House of Representatives (DPR) amounted to only Rp360 billion - Rp1.3 trillion.
Thus, the House set up an inquiry committee to probe into the bailout. After a meeting with the State Audit Board (BPK), the committee on Thursday agreed to recommend to the president to suspend Boediono and Sri Mulyani from their posts. Legislators suspect there was foul play in the bailing out process.
However President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who was in Copenhagen to attend the climate change conference said on the sidelines of the event that there was no need to suspend the two, because in this way they would be able to answer questions from the committee.
According to Chief Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa, the economic team would remain solid even though Finance Minister Sri Mulyani has to face questions from the House Special Committee on the Bank Century case.
"The economic team remains solid and the finance minister is required to accomplish our national development agenda," Hatta Rajasa said. Suspension is not an option because the finance minister has to continue to focus on her work. "Being non-active is not an option," he said.
In the meantime, a researcher said the inquiry committee had to work objectively and proportionally. "President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has made the correct statement saying that the term `non-active` is not found in the Constitution and its amendments for the vice president," Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) researcher Burhanduddin Muhtadi said here on Sunday.
As to the finance minister, Muhtadi said the request for a non-active status for her was also too premature because she even had not yet bee summoned by the committee and had not yet been investigated.
Muhtadi said the appeal by the inquiry committee reflected the weakness of the committee members` understanding of the 1945 Constitution and Law No. 39/ 2008 on State Ministers.
He said that the inquiry committee was driven too much by political interests so that it acted less proportionally and objectively in its investigation into the Bank Century case.
Secretary Genera of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle Pramono Aung said the inquiry committee was only an appeal or a suggestion, not a decision. An appeal and a decision have different context. If the president decided not to suspend them, there would be no problems because the president has the right to decide it.
However, according to Anung, the committee`s appeal contained moral values because if the president temporarily suspend them it would remove psychological burden for the committee to obtain more information.
"If the vice president and finance minister are non active, the committee would have no psychological burden to deepen information from them," he said. He said that it was a normal thing for a public figure to be temporarily suspended when he or she would be examined.
Anung, however, said that he had strong data with regard to the bailout fund.
"We will focus on how Bank Century could obtain such a large fund and will call for the accountability of those who turned out to be guilty. PDIP will focus on guarding the inquiry committee," he said.
The more so, some saw an effort to avert the main objective of the committee. Leaders of student organizations grouped in the `Cipayung Plus Group` said there were efforts to mislead the House Inquiry Committee from its main objective.
"We see there is an effort to mislead the inquiry committee from people`s demand. People have wanted that the inquiry committee would work in disclosing various crimes on the state money," General Chairman of the Islamic Students Association (HMI) General Chairman Arib Musthopa said.
He said that the discourse whether or not Vice President Boediono and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani could be suspended was actually a systematic effort to divert public attention and to mislead the inquiry committee from its initial objective.(*)