Tue, 04 Sep 2001

AG's Office told to heal image

JAKARTA (JP): President Megawati Soekarnoputri urged the Attorney General's Office on Monday to improve its tarnished image, reminding it that the public was waiting for justice to be upheld, especially in cases of corruption, collusion and nepotism.

"You should try, although it might take a long while, to gradually diminish the image as an institution that puts a price on justice," Megawati said at the opening of the prosecutors' meeting at the State Palace on Monday.

Megawati was accompanied by Vice President Hamzah Haz, Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Attorney General M.A. Rachman at the ceremony.

The President further reiterated that the public was no longer patient and would react quickly to any process of injustice that happened around them.

"The public is no longer a passive party that will accept violations. They are willing to accept differences, but not injustice, so you should provide them with a sense of justice," Megawati said.

In front of 270 prosecutors from across the country, the President reiterated that one of the most important working points of the government was to uphold the law and continue efforts to eradicate corruption, collusion and nepotism.

"I ask all of you to really pay attention to that and regain the public's trust," she underlined.

The President also contended her choice to pick a career prosecutor as the attorney general, saying that only a person from the inside understood the weaknesses of the institution and would know what to do to improve its performance.

"It's impossible that none of you are appropriate to have the responsibility to improve the office, and it's also impossible to find a person that is 100 percent clean to lead the institution," she said.

"So I hope all of you can prove yourself and make an internal improvement," Megawati added.

After the opening ceremony, M.A. Rachman said that the purpose of the two-day meeting was to identify the problems that hamper the efforts to settle many cases and uphold the law as demanded by the President.

"With the meeting we are to find the framework and a clear working plan to handle the cases. We accept the President's remarks as positive input to improve our performance," Rachman said.

Rachman also said that his office would restart the investigations of wanted tycoon Prayogo Pangestu and former State Logistics Agency (Bulog) chief Rahardi Ramelan in connection with their alleged involvement in corruption cases.

"We have asked them to return to the country by next week. In Rahardi's case we are coordinating with the National Police and Interpol to bring him back to Indonesia," he said.

Later in the day, the deputy attorney general of special crimes, Bactiar Fachry Nasution, said that the former chief of Bulog, Rahardi, was expected to come to the office on Friday for questioning over the alleged misuse of some Rp 54 billion of Bulog's funds in 1999.

"I met his lawyer, Yan Djuanda, last week and he promised me that his client would answer our summons. He also told me that Rahardi did not receive any summons from us, even though I have called Rahardi about three times," Nasution said.

The Attorney General's Office has been calling Rahardi since July.

Many people have speculated that the money was used for money politics by his political party, Golkar, to win the 1999 general election.

Nasution also said that Rahardi was living in Boston, the United States. (dja/tso)