Fri, 09 May 2003

Court asked to prioritize Akbar's graft appeal

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Reform faction at the House of Representatives has demanded that the Supreme Court make the appeal of House Speaker Akbar Tandjung a top priority to avoid prolonged debate on his status in the legislative body.

Ahmad Farhan Hamid, chairman of the Reform faction, said on Thursday that a final judgment from Supreme Court on Akbar's case would help the House make a decision regarding Akbar.

The faction incorporates legislators from the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Justice Party (PK), with just 41 out of 500 seats in the House.

It usually takes at least four months for a prioritized case to come before the court.

Akbar, who also chairs the Golkar Party, has been convicted for graft but remains free pending appeal at the Supreme Court. Under Indonesian law, a legal battle stops at the Supreme Court, whose verdict must be executed as soon as it is announced.

"An immediate legal decision on this case would help the House of Representatives regain its self-confidence," Farhan told the media on the sidelines of a meeting of the House's steering committee here.

Fellow faction member Alvin Lie concurred, saying that the sooner a verdict was issued by Supreme Court, the sooner the House could restore its battered image.

Asked if demands on the Supreme Court to act was intervention, Farhan said his faction was only conveying people's aspirations.

A team of justices has been set up to study the graft case of Akbar. The justices play a key role on how soon the final judgment will be issued.

Separately, all factions agreed on Thursday that the House would not spend time discussing the status of Akbar until the Supreme Court issues a verdict on Akbar.

The consensus was reached during a meeting of the House's steering committee, which started an hour behind schedule.

The committee was responding to a motion from about 70 inter- faction legislators, who demanded a disciplinary commission examine the moral appropriateness of Akbar leading the House after being convicted for graft.

Previously, a number of legislators filed a motion of no- confidence against Akbar. However, the House leaders rejected the motion, saying there was no ruling to deal with the move.

Barlianta Harahap, chairman of the United Development Party (PPP) faction, said after the meeting that the nation must uphold the law in all legal matters.

"Since this country believes in supremacy of the law, we will discuss Akbar's status only after the Supreme Court has a final say," Barlianta said.

Yahya Zaini of the Golkar faction hailed the agreement, saying it reflected the wisdom of all factions.

Chairman of the National Awakening Party (PKB) faction Rodjil Ghufron was upset with the consensus, but said his faction could not do much more to push for more discussion on Akbar's status.

Rodjil, whose faction pushed for a House inquiry into the involvement of Akbar in a Rp 40 million financial scandal, suggested that the graft case be settled through legal and political approaches.

"PKB is the only faction to support the political process, which is not powerful enough," he said.

Haryanto Taslam of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) faction refused to comment, but said that the agreement demonstrated the quality of legislators.