Mon, 23 Sep 2002

Councillors get money for canceled trip

SURABAYA: Ten councillors from Commission E of the East Java legislative council have accepted money for trips that were canceled, according to commission chairman Harbiyah Shalahuddin.

Harbiyah said on Saturday the money was for preparing administrative documents such as visas and passports. She, however, declined to name the councillors.

Previously, 19 councillors were scheduled to tour the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and several European countries this month, at a cost of Rp 20 million (US$2,200) per person.

But the trip was canceled after Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno banned overseas trips involving more than 10 councillors.

Separately, councillor Luthfillah Masduki said the councillors' decision to take the money was unethical and reflected the true face of the legislature. She demanded the 10 councillors return the money.

Luthfillah said she suspected there was a conspiracy involving the commission chairman, the council's secretary and the council speaker, because the disbursement of the funds required all of their approval.

Council Speaker Bisjri Abdul Djalil denied he had approved the disbursement of the funds, saying he knew nothing about the matter. --JP