Fri, 22 Dec 2000

Councilors who receive payoffs asked to resign

JAKARTA (JP): Councilors receiving payoffs from city officials and business people while conducting official duties must resign, an activist said on Wednesday.

"It is about moral standards. City officials and councilors have violated their vows not to receive any kind of payoff which may influence their work," coordinator of Government Watch Farid R. Faqih told The Jakarta Post.

His remarks were in response to the plan by four councilors of the Justice Party (PK) to donate Rp 40 million (about US$4,325) to charity. The funds represented the total amount of money received from city authorities during various official visits this year.

Exposure of the plan attracted dozens of interested applicants who flooded the City Council office with requests.

On Wednesday the PK members then distributed the money to 130 employees at the City Council, comprising the cleaning staff, drivers and security personnel.

Farid said that payoffs inherently contain some interest. Because such payments cannot be accounted for, reports regarding the use of the budget would inevitably be manipulated, he added.

"There is no allocation of the budgets (of city agencies) for such payments to councilors," Farid said.

Separately another activist, Tom Pasaribu of Parliament Watch Indonesia, said manipulation of the city budget proved to be used for payoffs to city councilors, could be reported to the city police and the prosecutor's office.

"The councilors must reveal the city agencies which have given them payoffs. Otherwise, they will be charged for protecting the crime," said Tom.

The Criminal Law article 423 says any civil officers who abuse their authority for their own interests by giving payoffs could be charged, with punishment including six years in jail.

"Such cases must also be reported by the leaders of the city council and the governor, who can reprimand the suspected councilors and city authorities with administrative sanctions," Farid said.

According to article 42 in the Law no.4/1999, suspected councilors could be fired by the Council Speaker, with recommendations from the related faction. There are now 85 councilors from 11 factions on the City Council.

"But I'm pessimistic about such investigations by the city authorities and councilors," Farid of Government Watch said, adding that most similar cases were left buried and unsolved.

When asked about proposed separate items for councilors' official visits in the draft city budget for 2001, Farid said it was ridiculous.

Some councilors have said the payments are natural considering their efforts.

"It is part of the councilors' duty to be exhausted due to the visits, but they cannot accept such payments," Farid said.

Meanwhile, councilor Agus Dharmawan of the National Mandate Party (PAN) said it was unnecessary to reveal the source of the payoffs, saying that it would be enough for councilors to maintain a commitment against receiving such money. (07)