Fri, 11 Apr 2003

Legislature accepts Rizal's accountability report

Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post, Medan, North Sumatra

The North Sumatra legislature unanimously approved on Thursday the accountability report of Governor Rizal Nurdin, but said there was still a long way for him to go before he gets reelected.

All six factions in the legislature praised Rizal's performance during his five years in office, but said there were several cases of corruption, collusion and nepotism that had not been resolved by his administration.

"The governor was not firm enough to eradicate these practices so there are some cases which his administration failed to address," the spokesman for the influential Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) faction, Marlon Purba, said.

The faction, the largest in the legislature with 30 out of 85 seats, highlighted the alleged misuse of provincial funds allocated for several road and canal construction projects across the province. The Provincial Prosecutor's Office has not moved to investigate the cases.

Rizal received compliments from the faction for his success in "creating a favorable climate" in the province since he took office in 1998. The faction did not elaborate further.

Marlon said despite the faction's acceptance of the governor's accountability report, it would not automatically throw its weight behind his reelection.

"Although we have nominated him as one of our gubernatorial candidates, that doesn't mean that we will vote for him. Ibu Megawati is the most authoritative person to decide whether we must go for him," Marlon said, referring to PDI Perjuangan chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri.

PDI Perjuangan has proposed retired major general Rizal, the secretary-general of National Resilience Institute, Lt. Gen. (ret) Amir Sembiring, House of Representatives legislator Maj. Gen. (ret) Raja Kami Sembiring Meliala and five civilian figures as gubernatorial candidates. Megawati is expected to choose one of them.

The deputy speaker of the North Sumatra legislature, Serta Ginting, echoed Marlon's view.

"Our acceptance of the governor's accountability report does not guarantee his reelection," Serta said.

The unanimous endorsement, he added, should be read as the legislature's criticism of the governor's failure to solve some graft cases.

"Accepting the accountability report with some criticism does not mean we agree with what he has done over the past five years," Serta said.

He suggested that all legislature members listen to their conscience during the gubernatorial election scheduled for mid- May.

Separately, the coordinator of the North Sumatra Legislature Watch said Rizal did not deserve the legislature's acceptance because of his poor performance in economic, sociopolitical, cultural, environmental and legal affairs.

"His administration in particular has inflicted huge losses to our economy for the past five years," Moechtar said.

He expressed his disappointment with the legislature for its inconsistency.