Tue, 08 Feb 2000

House to qrill BI over legal aid to its employees

JAKARTA (JP): The House of Representatives' Commission IX on banking and finance will question Bank Indonesia on Tuesday about its recent ruling providing legal protection to its employees.

Legislator Paskah Suzeta of the Golkar party, a member of the commission, said on Monday the protection given by the central bank to its current and former employees was "excessive".

"From Bank Indonesia's point of view, it may be all right. But from other people's, it seems excessive. And we will ask Bank Indonesia about that tomorrow (Tuesday)," Paskah said.

He said the House would make sure that Bank Indonesia's policy of protecting its employees was in-line with prevailing regulations.

Bank Indonesia governor Sjahril Sabirin issued a ruling on Jan. 21, 2000 that provided legal protection to employees or former employees in official investigations or prosecutions as a result of their status as BI employees.

The legal protection the central bank promised its employees and former employees covers legal aid; access to bank data; assistance in bailing them out from jail; physical protection from possible intimidation; rehabilitation of their rights; and financial assistance during investigation processes.

BI legal director Sis Abadi said the bank had legally protected its employees and former employees for some time already, but it was only in January that the ruling was made.

"The timing may be not right, but the ruling itself, to give legal assistance to employees, is very common everywhere. Every institution, if capable, should protect its employees both legally and physically," Sis said.

He said BI had long allocated a certain amount of money in its annual budget to provide legal assistance to its employees and former employees.

But he reiterated that legal assistance was only given to employees who performed their duties according to the central bank's guidelines. Those who violated the central bank's own procedures would not get such assistance.

Banking analyst and former BI director I Nyoman Moena supported the central bank, saying that granting legal assistance of this kind was a common practice in institutions capable of doing so and should not spark unnecessary controversy.

"Just look at the legal assistance given by the TNI (the Armed Forces) to Pak Wiranto and other generals in the East Timor case. How much money does TNI have to pay those lawyers to defend Pak Wiranto?" Moena said.

A team of noted lawyers, led by former justice minister Muladi, is defending Coordinating Minister for Security and Political Affairs Gen. Wiranto and several other generals implicated in postballot violence in East Timor last year. It is not clear, however, whether it is the TNI or the generals themselves who are paying the lawyers.

Moena said legal protection to employees, officials or officers granted by their institutions should be commended, instead of criticized, because it showed that the institutions cared about their employees and the upholding of law and justice.

He said the granting of legal protection to its employees by BI was especially timely now as it was facing criticism and allegations that "all BI employees are robbers".

Legal protection of this kind from BI would encourage its employees to work normally, heed all regulations and not bow to outside pressure. In the end, it would help to uphold the central bank's independency, Moena said. (rid)