Tue, 09 May 2000

Habibie denies Rp 1b campaign donation to PBB

JAKARTA (JP): The Rp 1 billion campaign fund scandal involving Minister of Law and Legislation Yusril Ihza Mahendra took an unexpected turn on Monday as associates of B.J. Habibie claimed that the former president never donated such a sum.

Speaking on behalf of Habibie, close confidants Ahmad Watik Pratiknya, former Minister of Justice Muladi and Golkar Party legislator Marwah Daud Ibrahim, told journalists that Yusril's claims that Habibie had donated money to Crescent Star Party (PBB) were untrue.

Reading a letter from Habibie, Watik said Yusril visited Habibie on Nov. 2, 1998, and asked him to help fund the party's national working meeting.

"As President and in a personal capacity, I could not give the funds. I suggested that he ask other parties who wanted to help," Habibie said in the letter sent from Munchen, Germany on May 5.

Habibie did not give details about what he meant by "parties" who wanted to help.

According to Watik, Habibie also denied giving any sort of memo that would assist Yusril to secure the funds from other parties.

Habibie's letter then recounted that Yusril, who worked at the State Secretariat at that time, met Habibie in January 1999 and told him he had obtained the funds.

Despite initially rejecting reports of receiving huge funds from Habibie, Yusril conceded during the PBB congress last month that he had received donations from Habibie.

He claimed that he received two separate donations of Rp 1 billion and Rp 500 million.

Despite the scandal, Yusril was still re-elected as PBB chairman, causing a group of 16 senior party executives and members to walk out of the PBB congress meeting in disgust.

Separately, Fadli Zon, representing the breakaway faction from the PBB, said on Monday they would sue Yusril over the alleged money politics.

"All 16 PBB figures rejecting the recent meeting will file a lawsuit against Yusril over the case," he said, adding that there needs to be a thorough investigation into the matter because either Yusril or Habibie is lying.

"One of the two is certainly lying and therefore the police should investigate the case," he said.

Meanwhile, leaders of the Hizbullah Brigade, which is affiliated to the party, said it supported the criticism of the 16 senior members, especially as there were signs that Yusril engineered the congress to ensure he would be re-elected.

M. Soleh Ardiyansah, the brigade's chief, said he has strong evidence that a pro-Yusril group manipulated the congress to win support for Yusril's re-election.

PBB finished among political parties that won the minimum votes of two percent in last year's elections by securing 13 seats in the House of Representatives. (rms/jun)