Mon, 26 Jun 2000

Amien expresses dissatisfaction at reform movement

JAKARTA (JP): People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Amien Rais expressed his discontent on Saturday over the foot- dragging reform movement which he had once set the pace of.

Speaking at a mass gathering held by the Muhammadiyah Muslim organization in Riau's capital Pekanbaru, Amien lambasted the return of corruption, collusion, and nepotism after the boisterous, student-orchestrated reform campaign led to the resignation of long-time ruler Soeharto in May 1998.

"Now there's Bulogate, Bruneigate and other kinds of gates which I will not mention in order not to discourage you," Amien told Antara.

He was referring to the Rp 35 billion swindle at the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) which allegedly involved President Abdurrahman Wahid's aides and the President's deal with Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah on financial aid to help ease problems in Aceh.

Along with opposition leaders, Abdurrahman Wahid and Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri, Amien emerged with the new political elite after the fall of New Order regime.

But after his success in brokering the rise of Abdurrahman to the presidency last October, Amien has become a constant critic of Abdurrahman.

"We expected that the changing of regime and government would smoothen the reform agenda," he told participants of the Muhammadiyah gathering.

Apart from the government's lackluster performance in eradicating corruption, Amien, who is Muhammadiyah's former chairman, said the present administration had yet to uphold the supremacy of the law.

"A motorcycle thief was beaten to death, but those who stole billions of rupiah of the people's money raised by Bank Indonesia to provide domestic banks with emergency liquidity loans remain at large," he said.

Earlier, a group of scholars who graduated from the University of Indonesia aired their skepticism about whether the Indonesian political elite could maintain their commitment to the reform movement.

"Instead of focusing on priority jobs of promoting the supremacy of the law, eliminating corruption, collusion and nepotism practices, upholding good governance and undertaking economic recovery, the political elite are busy with maneuvering," the academicians grouped under the University of Indonesia's Alumni Association (ILUNI UI) said in a statement on Friday.

Rivalry between the political elite had also turned ugly, with each party trying to unseat the other to protect its own interests and not to improve the government's performance, the statement said.

"They are so busy with political maneuvering that they are unable to cope with fundamental problems such as the threat of national disintegration and continuing violence pitting religious groups against each other in Ambon," association chairman Azrul Azwar said.

"Those facts reveal that our politicians lack ethics and morality," he added.

To promote ethics among the political elite, the association will hold a one-day symposium on Monday. The President, Vice President, MPR Speaker, House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung and other party figures and religious leaders will attend the symposium.

Azrul said the association was not setting targets, but reminding the political elite about ethics and morality. (09/10)