Sat, 22 Feb 2003

Legislator defies KONI candidacy requirements

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Oesman Sapta Odang, one of seven candidates vying for the top job at the National Sports Council (KONI) during next week's election, said he was astounded at being told he had to obtain a presidential endorsement for his candidacy.

"I'm shocked at the statement from the screening team that I have fallen short of meeting the requirements, one being the permit from the president," Oesman said in Jakarta on Friday.

"Are they aware about what they say?" Oesman, a People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) deputy speaker, queried.

His media briefing at the Century Hotel followed a statement over the issue from the screening team, which consists seven sports representatives.

But the hotel businessman remained defiant.

"As a businessman in this case, I'm dependent of no one. So I don't need a permit from anyone. As deputy speaker of the MPR, no patronage should be higher ... It's absolutely incorrect that I need a permit from the president," he said.

Others contesting the chairpersonship during the three-day congress next week include KONI deputy chairman Arie Sudewo, national soccer chairman Agum Gumelar, karate-do chairman Luhut Panjaitan, Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso, Iskandar Zulkarnain and Octavianus Andy Gani Nena.

In regard to a lack of support from sports' organizations or KONI's provincial chapters for his bid, Oesman said a candidacy should not be determined by the number of backers.

"To join the race in the election, it's enough to have one organization in support. It's the participants of the congress who will assess the eligibility of one's candidacy after they hear the candidates' elaboration about their mission and vision," he said.

Oesman has been backed so far only by the Indonesian Wushu Association, while the screening team, which is popularly known as Team of Seven, requires a minimum number of ten backers, be they KONI-affiliated sports organizations or KONI's provincial chapters.

Meanwhile, the national contract bridge governing body Gabbsi reiterated its support for Luhut Panjaitan. The body's deputy secretary-general Bert Toar Polii said the former minister of trade and industry was the right person to lead KONI for the next four-year term given that his vision was in accord with its own vision for the future of sport in Indonesia.

"We would not lend our support to him if we did not know him well, including his policies on how to develop sports nationally," Bert said as quoted by Antara. Gabbsi is one of Luhut's 13 backers to date.