Sat, 03 Apr 2004

Council's China trip opposed

TANGERANG: The Banten Provincial Council's plan for a trip to China at the end of their term in office in August, met strong opposition from some of its members and residents.

Councillor Yayat Suhartono lambasted the plan, saying it would be a waste of taxpayer money. "What's the use of such a visit as at the end of our term? It's absolutely illogical," he said on Friday.

Council speaker Dharmono K. Lawi said the long-planned visit of 75 councillors was meant to hold "comparative studies" and would cost Rp 1.1 billion (US$129,411) taken from the council budget.

But councillor Mudjahid Chudari said he would not go along on the trip, because the purpose was still unclear.

Commenting on the trip plan, political observer Toto St. Radik questioned the timing of it.

"We're heading for general elections ... it's strange that, as I heard, almost all councillors took days off during the election campaign period and now they want to go together to China."

The Banten Muhamadiyah Youth and the Indonesian Muslim Student Movement (PMII) also called the council to drop the plan.

"Wouldn't it better that the unused budget money be allocated to improve public education and health facilities?" said PMII executive Pujiono. -- JP