Tue, 09 Mar 1999

Keep state secrets, Akbar warns officials

JAKARTA (JP): A veiled warning was conveyed Monday to officials who failed to maintain state secrets.

At a ceremony for the installation of new officials, Minister/State Secretary Akbar Tandjung said it was "our joint responsibility in keeping state secrets".

The leakage of state secrets is clearly prohibited under the criminal code and other regulations, Akbar said.

The phone tapping scandal has yet to subside, as police have not announced whether voices on circulated tapes really belong to President B.J. Habibie and Attorney General A.M. Ghalib.

"Leakage of state secrets, for instance about planned policies under discussion which are yet to be announced, can provoke unnecessary controversy among the public," Akbar said.

The police have referred to the criminal code prohibiting the leakage of state secrets in their investigations, in which several press representatives have been called as witnesses.

On Monday, chairman of the Crescent Star Party (PBB) Yusril Ihza Mahendra was released from his position as special assistant to the Minister/State Secretary.

Yusril said last month that he has decided to concentrate on his party.

In line with a new ruling on civil servants, political party executives must choose between their political activities and their jobs in the bureaucracy.

Yusril, also speech writer for former president Soeharto, was replaced by President B.J. Habibie's adviser Sofian Effendi in a brief ceremony at the State Secretariat led by Akbar himself.

Akbar also installed as head of the Institute of State Personnel Administration (BAKN) Ahmad Watik Pratiknya, another Habibie adviser, who replaced Maj. Gen. (ret) Soenarko. Soenarko was sworn in as Akbar's assistant for supervision and integrated policy affairs.

Sofian's previous position as Akbar's assistant for state affairs and non-departmental state agencies was filled by economist Prijono Tjiptoherijanto.

According to Government Regulation No. 12/1999, any of the country's 5.1 million civil servants who join political parties automatically lose their positions in the bureaucracy. However, they are entitled to compensation equal to their basic salary for one year.

The decree also stipulates that civil servants must obtain permission from their superiors if they wish to relinquish their state duties.

Apart from his position as Akbar's assistant, Yusril is also professor at the School of Law in the University of Indonesia (UI).

Chairman of National Mandate Party (PAN) Amien Rais decided to abandon his position as political science professor at Gajah Mada University in Yogyakarta.

Faisal Basri, PAN's secretary-general had also opted to leave his position as lecturer at UI's School of Economics. (prb)