Tue, 24 Jun 2003

Assembly deputy speakers blow US$54,000 in 10 days

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A 10-day trip by six deputy speakers of the People's Consultative Assembly to a number of European countries cost a whopping US$54,000, at the very least, according to an official.

Assembly secretary-general Rahimullah said on Monday that the money used to finance the official visit was partly taken from the state budget.

The daily allowances paid to Assembly deputy speakers is set in a decree of the finance minister. For example, the daily allowances for Assembly deputy speakers visiting England and France are US$300 and US$210 per day respectively.

"The amount of money for each person for the ten-day visit and return tickets reached US$9,000," Rahimullah said.

The six deputy Assembly speakers were Oesman Sapta of the Regional Representatives Faction (FUD), Jusuf Amir Feisal of the Crescent Star Party (PBB), Cholil Bisri of the National Awakening Party (PKB), Husni Thamrin of the United Development Party (PPP), Nazri Adlani of the Interest Group Faction (FUG), and Slamet Supriyadi of the Military/Police Faction.

Assembly speaker Amien Rais of the National Mandate Party (PAN), and two deputies, Sutjipto of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), and Ginandjar Kartasasmita of Golkar, had made overseas visits earlier.

Some media reported that the delegation of deputy speakers, and their wives, had spent taxpayers' money on hiring limousines and staying in luxury hotels.

Oesman Sapta said he himself had paid all the extra expenses of the six Assembly deputy speakers and their wives during their official visits to England, France, Spain, the Netherlands and Italy.

According to Oesman, he had done so on the basis of a pledge he had made to himself.

He recalled that he once suffered from cancer. While receiving medical treatment, he claims, he promised himself to treat fellow politicians should he recover his health.

Slamet Supriyadi emphasized that all the Assembly deputy speakers had paid for their wives out of their own pockets.

Oesman insisted that the visit by the Assembly deputy leaders was part of the implementation process of an Assembly decree on economic recovery.

Oesman said the members of the delegation had met their counterparts and Indonesian representatives in the countries visited.

The delegation first traveled to London to discuss economic recovery and then moved to Madrid, Spain, to discuss the implementation of the bicameral system and regional autonomy.

"Unfortunately, we could not meet with our representatives in France," Oesman added.

Later, the delegation went to Rome, Italy, to meet Indonesian ambassador Fredy Numberi, and then traveled to The Hague for a discussion on economic recovery.

Oesman added that during the visit the delegation had invited foreign investors to attend a workshop on economic recovery organized by the Regional Representatives Faction (FUD), which is scheduled for July 2.

He did not say if any foreign business players would actually attend the seminar.