Tue, 26 Sep 2000

Council opposes helicopter offer

MAKASSAR, South Sulawesi (JP): Five factions at the South Sulawesi provincial legislative council have criticized a state cooperative's offer to buy a helicopter for Governor HZ Palaguna.

They have demanded that he turn down the "foolish" bid.

The spokesman for a councillor team set up to deal with the offer, Arifuddin Saransi, told The Jakarta Post on Saturday that the Golkar Party, the Indonesian Military/National Police, Indonesian Nationality Awakening (KKI), the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the People's Mandate Party (FKAU) factions have all disagreed with the offer.

Bina Otoda Cooperative, a cooperative under the auspices of the office of the State Ministry for Regional Autonomy, has offered governor Palaguna a helicopter for his daily transport needs.

In a letter dated July 17, 2000, the cooperative said it wanted to buy a US$525,000 U.S. Robinson R44 type helicopter for the governor.

It is not clear if such a cooperative has the authority to purchase a helicopter for a governor.

The governor, through the provincial secretary, sent letter No. 553.3/4013/BP dated Sept. 7, 2000, to the speaker of the provincial legislative council, asking for the council's reaction.

Before the council has even discussed the letter officially, rumors have abounded that Governor Palaguna plans to buy a helicopter.

The plan has been criticized by people in the province, and has hit headlines in local papers.

Non-governmental groups have demanded that Palaguna cancels his plan to buy a helicopter, saying that most people in the province were living in poverty.

The Committee for Supervising the Legislative (Kopel) demanded on Friday that the plan be dropped.

Arifuddin said that certain groups of people had intentionally blown up the rumors to create 'uneasiness' among the people.

"We have shown our disproval of the offer and urged the governor to throw it into the trash bin," he said. "We thank the governor, who reported the offer to the council." (27/sur)