Sun, 27 Feb 2000

Gus Dur abolishes special boards

JAKARTA (JP): President Abdurrahman Wahid engaged in a bit of housecleaning on Saturday by abolishing special boards and advisers established by former presidents Soeharto and B.J. Habibie.

Six decrees were signed by the President effectively sweeping away the formal vestiges of the past regimes.

In all Abdurrahman discharged 34 advisers, eight special economic envoys, three councils and three ambassadors-at-large.

But the President emphasized the move was based on the objective goal of eliminating any overlap of responsibility.

"There were questions about whether the move was related to Habibie. There is no problem there, we just want to make an overall review," Abdurrahman said.

He praised Cabinet Secretary Marsilam Simanjuntak and State Secretary Bondan Gunawan for helping him to make the decision, adding that it was not an easy decision to take.

In his brief 17-month rule, Habibie appointed a number of advisers and extrastructural institutions.

Presidential Decree No. 33 terminated the duties of 34 advisers appointed by Habibie, including former ministers Abdul Latief and Joop Ave, senior journalist Aristides Katoppo and Lt. Gen. (ret) Sayidiman Suryohadiprojo.

The President also discharged eight special economic envoys, including Lippo Group's James Riady and Texmaco's Marimutu Sinivasan, who is under investigation for a credit scam.

Among the councils scrapped was the Council for the Enforcement of Security and Law, aimed at accelerating the government's reform program. It was chaired by Gen. Wiranto, who was minister of defense and security/Indonesian Military chief when he was appointed to head the body.

Also disbanded were the National Reform Team Toward a Civil Society, chaired by Habibie associate Adi Sasono, and the Corporate Offshore Debt Settlement Team headed by Radius Prawiro.

The President also discharged three ambassadors-at-large. Relieved of their duties were ambassador-at-large for East Timor affairs Lopes da Cruz, ambassador-at-large for maritime affairs Hasyim Djalal and Nana Sutresna, who was ambassador-at-large for the nonaligned movement.

"(Their positions) conflicted with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs," the President remarked.

While the President claims his latest move is geared toward efficiency, in less than four months in office Abdurrahman has established four new councils, not to mention the introduction of several special aides, including Bondan, Marsilam and Presidential Secretary Ratih Hardjono.

Respected economist Emil Salim heads up the 13-member National Economic Council formed by the President. The body also includes prominent economist Sri Mulyani Indrawati and former finance minister Bambang Subianto.

The council advises the President on macroeconomic policies and issues, but does not have a policy-making capacity.

Abdurrahman also established the National Business Development Council chaired by Sofyan Wanandi. It comprises 18- businesspeople, including Alim Markus from Maspion and Anton Supit from the Association of Footwear Producers.

The purpose of this council is to advise businesses on how they can benefit from the government's policies.

An Indonesian Maritime Council was also formed by Abdurrahman, as was the National Commission on Law.

Officially, Abdurrahman also has three advisers. Two economic advisers -- Widjojo Nitisastro and Ali Wardhana -- were retained from Habibie's presidency.

The third is Gen. Subagyo Hadisiswoyo, who serves as the President's military adviser. Subagyo relinquished his post as Army chief of staff to Gen. Tyasno Sudarto in November.

"Currently, the President only has three advisers," Marsilam remarked. (prb)