Thu, 25 May 2000

Eradicating corruption takes time, says Adi

JAKARTA (JP): Corruption eradication in Indonesia will take time due to rampant cases of the crime, newly installed chairman of the independent anticorruption team Adi Andojo Sutjipto said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a media conference following the team's induction by President Abdurrahman Wahid, Adi said he was not optimistic that corruption cleansing could be carried out in a short time.

"Such practices have been deeply rooted in the society for decades. I need extra prayers and moral support from the people to make our work a success," he said at the Attorney General's Office.

Government regulation No. 40/2000, issued on April 5, entrusts the team with both investigation and prosecution work in corruption cases which are difficult to prove for the Attorney General's Office.

That includes cases involving more than one institution, government officials and those using sophisticated technology, Adi said.

"We only handle cases delegated by the attorney general," he added. The attorney general serves as the 25-member team's coordinator, according to the government regulation.

The team will specifically deal with corruption in banking, taxation, capital markets, trade and industry, commodity markets and monetary and financial affairs.

The team is an embryo of the Commission to Eradicate Corruption, mandated by the 1999 Antigraft Law, which must be established before August next year.

According to the government regulation, the team's power includes the authority to tap telephones, block bank accounts, propose travel bans, seize materials sent through all telecommunication services and recommend the suspension of suspects from their posts.

Adi said the team is made up of professionals who were tightly selected. They include state prosecutors, police officers, officials of the central bank and other government institutions. Also joining the team are activists of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and experts, including Iskandar Sonhaji from Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW), Faisal Tadjuddin from the Movement of Concerned Citizens on State Assets (Gempita), H.S. Dillon from the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and banking expert Pradjoto, who will have to resign from the National Ombudsman Commission due to his upcoming service.

The President said at the induction ceremony that the team was unlikely to satisfy people's demand for corruption eradication in a short time.

Citing the experience of former Philippines president Corazon Aquino in searching for her predecessor Ferdinand Marcos' wealth, Abdurrahman said the government would adopt pragmatic approaches in resolving the crime.

"I need to remind you that we often adopt idealistic attitudes. We want to see quick results and object to seeing the (government's) clumsy action in investigating corruption cases," he said.

The President also used the opportunity to reiterate his innocence in a Rp 35 billion (US$4 million) corruption case involving the National Logistics Agency (Bulog) which allegedly involved his inner-circle associates.

Abdurrahman said he had ordered National Police chief Lt. Gen. Rusdihardjo to arrest the culprits.

"I know nothing about the matter," the President said.

In a related development, the Jakarta Police named on Tuesday Bulog deputy chief Sapuan as suspect in the alleged graft following the questioning of former and active Bulog officials Rahardi Ramelan, Effendi Wahab and Kamaruddin Djamal as witnesses.

Chief of detectives for economic crimes at the Jakarta Police Maj. Tito Karnavian said in his report that Sapuan was alleged to have swindled Rp 35 billion belonging to the Bina Sejahtera Warga Bulog Foundation.

The alleged swindle occurred in February this year at the foundation's office on Jl. Gatot Subroto in South Jakarta. (01/prb/ylt)