Sat, 23 Aug 2003

ICW urges President to axe M.A. Rachman for 'poor record'

A'an Suryana, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) for the second time has demanded that President Megawati Soekarnoputri fire Attorney General M.A. Rachman for his poor performance.

ICW aired the demand following the Attorney General's Office's recent decision to halt the investigation into high profile corruption cases that involved former president Soeharto's cronies Prajogo Pangestu and Djoko Ramiadji, and his daughter Siti "Tutut" Hardiyanti Rukmana.

"This decision provides convincing evidence that the Attorney General's Office is the major factor inhibiting the country's anticorruption drive," ICW coordinator Teten Masduki told The Jakarta Post. here on Friday.

He also called for the immediate establishment of the anticorruption commission required under the anticorruption law, and for this commission to thoroughly investigate the cases.

Businessman Prajogo was named a suspect for his alleged role in a markup case involving an Industrial Forest Estate (HTI) in South Sumatra that caused Rp 159 billion (US$18.7 million) in losses to the state. Tutut was declared a suspect for her role in a $31.49 million markup case in a project involving the construction of a fuel pipeline in Central Java. Meanwhile, Djoko Ramiadji was named suspect in a Rp 811 billion corruption case involving the Jakarta Outer Ring Road (JORR) project.

The investigations of the three have now been halted, with the Attorney General's Office claiming that the cases had actually inflicted no losses on the state.

ICW called for the attorney general's dismissal for the first time when Rachman was found not to have declared part of his personal assets to the Public Servants' Wealth Audit Commission (KPKPN) last year.

Megawati declined to replace Rachman, saying simply that there was no guarantee that his successor would be any better or cleaner.

ICW in its press release pointed out that the Attorney General's Office had consistently failed to fight against corruption in the country. Even worse, the Office, the highest prosecuting authority in the country, had frequently pursued controversial policies that flew in the face of the public's sense of justice.

Restructuring of the Attorney General's Office, which is responsible for spearheading law enforcement, was badly needed in order to improve the Office's performance, said the press release, a copy of which was made available to the Post.

An overhaul of the Attorney General's Office was urgently needed as many tough tasks lay ahead of it. According to the latest findings by ICW, the Attorney General's Office had failed to satisfactorily resolve at least 20 other high profile corruption cases.

The Rp 1.7 trillion corruption case involving former president Soeharto was one of these 20 cases. The Attorney General's Office looks set to halt this investigation as it is claimed that Soeharto is no longer physically fit enough to stand trial.

Many believe that the Attorney General's Office is also responsible for allowing seven corruption suspects to escape overseas. The seven are Sjamsul Nursalim, Bambang Sutrisno, Andrian Kiki Ariawan, Eko Adi Putranto, Sherny Konjongian, David Nusa Wijaya and Samadikun Hartono.