Wed, 06 Aug 2003

'Most of the money will be spent on hotel rooms'

The People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) agreed to cut short its Annual Session from 10 days to seven in an attempt to save the state budget Rp 6 billion from the total allocation of Rp 20 billion. However, the Rp 2 billion-per-day event is still too expensive in the eyes of ordinary people. Some said skeptically that the Session would not do anything for them as it would not improve current conditions. This is what they said to The Jakarta Post.

Antok, 41, works at a supermarket in Sunter, North Jakarta. He lives in Cempaka Baru, Central Jakarta, with his wife and son:

I don't know what legislators are discussing now at the Annual Session. I'm not the slightest bit interested. This year's Annual Session is the same as in previous years -- dull and nonsensical. The meeting seems a waste of time to most people.

To be honest, I don't care about it. Why should we care about it if legislators don't care about us?

I believe that most legislators promote their own interests rather than the nation's -- they're all self-publicists.

Regardless of such meetings, legislators are incapable of improving people's lives. So why is it so important to hold such a costly session?

Even if the assembly shortens the session to seven days, the amount spent will still be exorbitant. Worse, most of the money is allotted for legislators' accommodation: Sound's crazy, doesn't it?

Enny, 32, is a teacher at a private junior high school in Tangerang, Banten. She lives in Bumi Serpong Damai, Tangerang with her husband and son:

I've no idea what's going on in the legislature right now. I don't know and don't want to know what legislators are doing at the session.

I've never really wanted to know about the agenda at annual sessions. I just think there's nothing so important that I have to find out all about it.

I've become quite apathetic now about the deteriorating situation in the country. None of the leaders or high-ranking officials really side with the people.

They only waste public money. Why should I be a good taxpayer if the taxes are used to pay corrupt officials, like all of them?

Even if they shorten the session to seven days, it does not mean that they are being thrifty. Fourteen billion rupiah for seven days is still a lot to spend.

It would be far better and honorable if legislators or government thought of the poor state of education in the country.

They could disburse the money set aside for the session to increase teachers' welfare, instead. I would agree completely with the idea as it would help to improve the quality of education here.

Otherwise, the state budget will be spent on the wrong posts and people, as at present. The people's representatives do not deserve that much as they do not represent the people, but their own vested interests.

Simin, 50, is a sidewalk vendor who sells cold drinks in Pluit, North Jakarta. He lives in Tanah Merah, North Jakarta, with his wife and two children:

I don't care about what legislators do now in the MPR building. The legislators and I don't know each other, so why should we care about them?

I don't believe their discussions will ever favor the people's interests. They don't necessarily improve people's lives, do they?

I don't agree with the session, whether extended or shortened, because it's all the same -- a waste of public money. To shorten the number of days doesn't necessarily mean the budget will be cut.

Millions of people struggle hard simply to earn Rp 20,000 a day. Meanwhile, legislators get Rp 800,000 a day just for their five-star hotel accommodation!

Ironically, they are called the representatives of the people, including those in the low-income bracket -- it's nonsense!

I won't say any more. I'm fed up with my own hardships in life. The session is none of my business, after all.