Thu, 09 Nov 2000

Alwi, Rizal fulfill House summons on Bulog scandal

JAKARTA (JP): Minister of Foreign Affairs Alwi Shihab and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Rizal Ramli appeared at the House of Representatives on Wednesday to testify before the House's special committee over the Rp 35 billion (US$3.8 million) State Logistics Agency (Bulog) scandal.

While Alwi denied any involvement in the scandal, Rizal who was summoned in his capacity as Bulog chairman, refused to comment on the results of the closed-door meeting with the House.

"I'm clean. I was not involved in the case," Alwi told reporters before testifying. Rizal testified after Alwi.

A committee member, Hafiz Zawawi, said Alwi told the committee that he first heard about the scandal from a magazine reporter.

Alwi then telephoned former Bulog chairman Yusuf Kalla about the withdrawal of the Rp 35 billion fund belonging to Yanatera, Bulog employees' foundation.

Yusuf, former minister of industry and trade, had earlier told the House's special committee that Alwi knew about the withdrawal of the fund.

Asked about his phone calls to Yusuf, Alwi said: "I usually telephone him. He (Yusuf) also often telephoned me."

Meanwhile, another committee member Ali Masykur Moesa criticized the committee for summoning President Abdurrahman Wahid for questioning.

"So far, there is no evidence that Gus Dur was involved in the case. The committee has also yet to meet regarding the summons (for Abdurrahman)," Ali, a legislator of the National Awakening Party (PKB), said, referring to Abdurrahman by his nickname.

He regretted the committee's manner in conducting the investigation into the scandal as it was assuming the President was involved.

Separately, House Speaker Akbar Tandjung confirmed on Wednesday that Abdurrahman was among witnesses to be summoned by the committee.

"I know the President is on the list. But, we have yet to send the summons," Akbar, who is also chairman of Golkar Party, said.

Committee chairman Bachtiar Chamsyah told reporters on Tuesday that Abdurrahman had been invited for a clarification on Nov. 15. (jun)