Tue, 23 May 2000

Govt criticized for inability to fight graft

JAKARTA (JP): The National Law Commission has expressed its concern over ongoing rampant corruption resulting from the sluggish movement of the government's law enforcement agencies to cope with the crime.

Alleged collusion and corruption involving former president Soeharto and textile giant firm Texmaco were among major cases discussed during a meeting between the commission members and President Abdurrahman Wahid on Monday.

The Attorney General's Office decided on Friday to stop investigation into the Texmaco case due to lack of evidence, as verified by the government audit agency and witnesses.

"For the time being, KKN cases are not declining and are even increasing, especially those which occur at the law enforcement agencies," commission chairman J.E. Sahetapy said.

KKN is the popular acronym for the practices of corruption, collusion and nepotism.

Accompanying Sahetapy during the meeting was the commission's secretary, Mardjono Reksodiputro, and members Frans Hendra Winata, Suhadibroto and Fajrul Falaakh.

According to Sahetapy, the government would be unable to regain the trust of people and the international community if it failed to prove its seriousness in upholding the law.

Sahetapy, a professor of law at Surabaya-based Airlangga University and House of Representatives legislator, said the commission asked the government to quickly end the disarray at the Supreme Court.

It urged Abdurrahman to accelerate the promotion of new and clean supreme and senior justices. It especially suggested that the President promote a career judge with a respectable reputation as chief justice, and one who never held a government position during either the current or previous governments.

Sahetapy, however, denied that the commission opposed the nomination of former minister of justice Muladi for the position and supported the President's handpicked candidate, retired judge Benjamin Mangkudilaga.

"We only submitted the criteria for the supreme justice, and we hope the President will pay attention to them," said Sahetapy.

The commission's secretary, Suhadibroto, told the President that the Attorney General's Office was one of the weakest points in upholding the law, as it had shown in the foot dragging investigation into the former first family's alleged graft.

Suhadibroto, a former deputy attorney general for special crimes, pointed out that the office would never be able to bring Soeharto to court if it stuck to the current strategy of charging the former president case by case.

Suhadibroto suggested that Attorney General Marzuki Darusman emulate state oil company Pertamina in adopting a mosaic method. Under the pattern, the Attorney General's Office would collect all corruption cases involving Soeharto before making a major decision based on the overall probe.

"If the Pak Harto case is managed case by case, when will the Attorney General's Office finish its investigation? The public believes there are so many cases (that involve Soeharto)," said Suhadibroto.

Sahetapy also disclosed the President's denial that he had meddled with the decision of the Attorney General's Office on Friday to halt an investigation into Texmaco's Rp 9.6 trillion (US$1.15 billion) alleged loan scandal.

"I think the President never interfered in this case," Sahetapy remarked.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) described the cessation of the Texmaco investigation as the result of a high-level conspiracy to protect KKN practices during Soeharto's era.

"The decision has eroded people's expectation of the government's seriousness in eradicating corruption, and has triggered strong suspicion of a high-level conspiracy in resolving this case," PBHI chairman Hendardi said in a statement. (prb)