Fri, 09 May 2003

BI chief selection may face obstacles

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The House of Representatives could face future legal obstacles in the ongoing process to select a new governor of Bank Indonesia, which has taken much longer than allowed under the law, experts said.

According to Law No. 23 on Bank Indonesia, legislators have three weeks at the most from the time they receive a list of candidates for central bank governor from the president to either accept or reject the nominees.

President Megawati Soekarnoputri submitted a list of three candidates to the House in February. The candidates are Miranda S. Goeltom, Burhanuddin Abdullah and Cyrillius Harinowo.

"What we are seeing currently is a violation of the law. This could definitely pose a serious conflict in the future," Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) economist Pande Radja Silalahi said during a hearing on Thursday with House Commission IX on financial affairs.

The commission, in charge of the selection process, invited a group of financial, banking and legal experts to the hearing to hear their opinion on screening of the governor candidates.

Besides Pande, also attending the hearing were Sutan Remy Syahdeni, I Nyoman Muna, Pradjoto, Sri Adiningsih, Faisal Basri and former Bank Indonesia governor Rachmat Saleh.

All of the experts declined to single out their preferred candidate, but the discussion came to life when the topic of the selection process and its legality, or lack thereof, was brought up.

"The law clearly stipulates that the House only has three weeks at the most to decide after receiving the list (of candidates).

"Legal conflict will be looming if this is not settled. I do not know how to solve this, but I can say that conflict is the last thing we need in the current economic climate," Pande said.

Stunned by the remarks and apparently eager to explain themselves, some legislators raised their voices as they asserted that three weeks was an insufficient amount of time for the process, given their other work.

Rizal Djalil, an influential lawmaker, challenged Pande's assertion by saying only the Supreme Court had the right to say whether the House had or had not violated a law.

"If the Supreme Court can settle this, then we should pursue that. All I'm trying to say is if we don't settle this, someone could easily question the validity of your decision on the Bank Indonesia governor," Pande replied.

This exchange could be seen as the latest challenge to lawmakers, who are frequently accused of moving too slowly in delivering key programs.

There was more drama at the hearing when outspoken economist Faisal was cut off as he attempted to discuss one of the governor candidates.

Faisal was preparing to present information on Miranda S. Goeltom, which he said would show that she was ineligible to run for central bank governor, when he was interrupted by legislator Dudi Makmum Murod, who said the hearing was not a forum to embarrass any of the candidates.

The legislator then asked Faisal to write the commission a letter outlining his information and promised follow-up action if it was valid.

Dudi is a senior member of Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), the country's largest political party which is widely seen as backing Miranda's candidacy.