Tue, 08 Aug 2000

Megawati 'refuses' to read progress report

JAKARTA (JP): While relations between President and Vice President are said to be congenial, aides close to Megawati Soekarnoputri said the fact that she did not read Monday's key presidential report was evidence of her dissatisfaction with it.

Monday's "incident" was the second time in less than three weeks she has reportedly rejected reading a presidential report.

Last month, she was said to have refused to read the President's explanation at the interpellation hearing with the House of Representatives due to Abdurrahman Wahid's controversial view on the proceedings.

During both occasions, officials had stated that Megawati would read the speech on behalf of the President.

Sources said Megawati informed Abdurrahman on Sunday night that it was better for him to find another official to read out his progress report to the People's Consultative Assembly on Monday.

The source said Megawati said she was critical of the speech's draft because it was too general and would only confuse the people who needed concrete and more detailed programs.

"Ibu refused to read out the speech, because her suggestion to make the speech more detailed was not heard by the President," an official, who asked not to be named, told The Jakarta Post.

The official said Megawati particularly wanted a more transparent and concrete report about the latest developments in Aceh, Maluku and Irian Jaya included.

"She clearly conveyed her reservations to the President, but the President did not give any reaction," the official said, adding that it was a way for Megawati to personally distance herself from the report.

Cabinet Secretary Marsilam Simanjuntak read out the speech on behalf of the President on Monday.

The President disclosed on Friday that he had agreed with Minister of Mines and Energy Lt. Gen. (ret.) Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's suggestions to avoid details and to make the speech as general as possible to avoid controversy.

After meeting with the President, Susilo said at the time Megawati had given her approval to read out the speech due to Abdurrahman's vision problem.

The fact that Marsilam was the one to read the speech also took the Assembly by surprise, with one member interrupting proceedings to demand that Megawati be the one to read the report as originally planned.

Last month during the interpellation hearing it was State Secretary Djohan Effendy who read out the controversial speech. (prb)