Tue, 19 Dec 2000

House committee to question VP over financial scandals

JAKARTA (JP): The House of Representatives' special committee investigating the Bulog and Brunei scandals, which allegedly involves President Abdurrahman Wahid, intends to question Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri to seek clarification, committee chairman Bachtiar Chamsyah said on Monday.

"There is an intention among members of the committee to summon Megawati. She will be (treated) in the same way as other witnesses," Bachtiar of the United Development Party (PPP) said.

He said Megawati would be questioned since she was mentioned in the testimony of former National Police chief Gen. Rusdihardjo.

He said Rusdihardjo, during his testimony before the committee, also admitted to have handed over a police dossier on the case to Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri.

"So it should not be a problem (to question Megawati). It's only to cross-check," he added.

Bachtiar said Megawati would most likely be questioned after the questioning of the President and his former masseur Suwondo.

Committee members had said that the President would be summoned on Jan. 17 while Suwondo would be questioned one day before.

"So there's still enough time to summon (Megawati) and another key witness," Bachtiar said without elaborating.

The committee is probing the possible involvement of Abdurrahman in the withdrawal of Rp 35 billion belonging to a State Logistics Agency (Bulog) foundation and the misuse of a US$2 million donation from Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

Abdurrahman had earlier said that he deplored Rusdihardjo's action of handing over the police dossiers on the case to Megawati and the committee instead of to the prosecutors.

The President also charged that the committee was illegal since it had not been registered in the State Gazette as required by Law 6/1954 on House inquiries.

Meanwhile committee member Ali Masykur Musa supported Bachtiar's statement saying that a clarification from the Vice President was necessary.

"It's important as Megawati was mentioned in Rusdihardjo's testimony. It will also help clarify the police dossier," Ali of the National Awakening party (PKB) said.


Meanwhile groups of students some supporting and others against the committee rallied at the House compound on Monday.

A group calling themselves the Indonesian Student Consortium expressed support for the questioning of Megawati.

Their rally was joined by around a hundred students from the Indonesian Youth Axis (PPI).

But another group of around 50 students from the University of Indonesia (UI) asked the special committee to cease its investigation as it raised the specter of conflict among the people.

Muchlis Ali, PPI coordinator, said the special committee should continue the investigation to show the people whether the President was involved in the scandal.

"The special committee should not be influenced by suggestions that its establishment was not valid. All sides should accept and respect the law," he said.

Yanto, spokesman for the UI students, said the investigation should be halted as it was part of a scheme initiated by certain politicians since the August annual session of the People's Consultative Assembly to topple the President.

"It will be better for the House to focus on major problems the nation is facing instead of being trapped in a power struggle between the executive body and the House," he said. (jun/rms)