Wed, 14 Jun 2000

Gus Dur's healer suspected of involvement in tender

JAKARTA (JP): President of PT PLN Kuntoro Mangkusubroto admitted on Tuesday that an associate of President Abdurrahman Wahid's had asked him to back a consortium of companies in a bid to win a US$74 million project of the state electricity company.

Speaking at hearing with the House of Representatives, Kuntoro said the President's personal Chinese traditional healer, Daniel Tay, came to see him in connection with a retender of the project to build a power transmission network from the Paiton power plant in East Java to West Java.

"I don't know his background, but I've meet him twice where he was telling me something," Kuntoro said during a hearing with House commission VIII, which oversees mines and energy.

When asked by House members what Kuntoro meant by "something", he answered that Tay wanted the consortium he represented to win.

However, he did not mention the consortium's name and later refused to answer reporters' questions regarding his meeting with Daniel Tay.

Kuntoro was answering a question raised by Priyo Budi Santoso of the Golkar Party during the hearing. Priyo said he had information that Tay met Kuntoro as a middleman in the Shanghai Trans consortium.

PLN opened the tendering in early 1997 and later named PT Bukaka-Wijaya Karya-Mega Eltra, which is owned by former trade and industry minister Yusuf Kalla.

But Bukaka's contract was revoked after an evaluation team set up by the Ministry of Mines and Energy in January this year found that the company was financially and technically unfit to develop the project.

Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Finance and Industry Kwik Kian Gie ordered PLN in May to retender the project. A number of local and foreign companies, including Shanghai Trans consortium have expressed interest in joining the retender.

According to Kuntoro, Bukaka's financial condition might have changed after it won the project. "The tender was held in 1997 and the assessment was made on its 1996 balance sheet," he said, adding that the economic crisis in 1997 must have badly affected the company.

Bukaka's tender came under spotlight last April when the President dismissed two economics ministers under suspicion of corruption, collusion and nepotism.

Abdurrahman mentioned then minister of industry and trade Yusuf Kalla as being implicated in these alleged activities during the Bukaka tender process. Yusuf has denied the charges.

The former minister further threatened to sue PLN over its move to cancel the tender.

Kuntoro said that PLN would be ready to face the charges leveled against it.

"It's his (Yusuf's) right to file a law suit against us," he said.

In concluding the hearing, commission VIII said it would summon the coordinating minister for the economy for further clarification.(bkm)