Thu, 27 Apr 2000

House to question President over his Cabinet reshuffle

JAKARTA (JP): House of Representatives legislators are planning to grill President Abdurrahman Wahid over his latest Cabinet shake-up when they meet with him for a regular consultation on Thursday.

Speaking after a leadership meeting, House Speaker Akbar Tandjung said the leaders of the legislative body believed the reasons for the replacement of Laksamana Sukardi and Yusuf Kalla as state minister of investment and state enterprises development and minister of trade and industry remained unclear.

"It is feared the replacements will disturb the political atmosphere and the economic recovery," Akbar said.

He said the House would urge Gus Dur, as the President is popularly called, not to take any steps that could hamper the ongoing economic recovery program.

In his capacity as chairman of the Golkar Party, Akbar regretted the replacement of Golkar cadre Kalla,saying that he had worked hard to jack up Indonesian exports.

He accused Gus Dur of violating the commitment he made when forming the Cabinet in October last year.

Golkar would not have objected to the reshuffle if the President had appointed the ministers himself, he said.

"Gus Dur should respect his commitment. The replacements did not respect political ethics," he said.

Akbar said party executives met on Tuesday night to discuss a plan to demand the President give a thorough explanation of the reshuffle.

"However we will not withdraw our cadres from the Cabinet," Akbar said.

There are currently three Golkar members serving as ministers in the Cabinet: manpower minister Bomer Pasaribu, sport and youth affairs minister Mahadi Sinambela and Attorney General Marzuki Darusman.

Akbar also admitted he had met with Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) Secretary-General Sutjipto at the Hilton Hotel later on Tuesday evening to share ideas on the reshuffle.

"Both of us viewed the replacement of the two ministers as lacking in a strong reason," he said.

Akbar denied that Golkar and PDI Perjuangan would join forces and become an opposition force.

He also dismissed speculation blaming the Cabinet's poor performance on the fact that its ministers come from various political parties.

"Although they (the ministers) come from different political parties, I know that they work hard to support the President," he said.

Besides the Cabinet reshuffle, Akbar said that the consultative meeting, which will start at 9:30 a.m, would discuss the Provisional People's Consultative Assembly Decree No. 25/1966 which bans the propagation of communism in the country.

"We will tell Gus Dur that the majority of the public have rejected his intention to revoke the decree," he said.

The President has repeatedly stated his wish to revoke the decree, which he said violates the principles of democracy and human rights.

His statements on communism have sparked protests across the country and prompted calls by some political figures for a special session of the Assembly to oust him. (jun)