Mon, 03 Jan 2000

Nur Mahmudi defies protest, inducts Soeripto

JAKARTA (JP): Minister of Forestry and Plantations Nur Mahmudi Ismail has inducted Soeripto as the ministry's secretary-general to replace Roedjai Djakaria, despite oppositions from people inside the office.

Following Soeripto's induction on Friday, the Indonesian Development Supervision Institute, which groups people against Soeripto, threatened to sue the government over his appointment, arguing that his induction was against prevailing regulations.

Mahmudi defied the threats and officially inducted Soeripto in a brief ceremony at the ministry office.

He said Soeripto's appointment was a normal procedure in empowering his office.

"Later, there will be more changes in our ministry," he said without giving details.

Soeripto, 64, a former military and intelligence official, was appointed as secretary-general on Dec. 18 through a presidential decree.

The decision triggered widespread protests in the ministry because, according to those disagreed with the decision, it breached regulations: Soeripto was older than the maximum age allowed to fill in that position and he was not a career official from the ministry.

Mahmudi said on Thursday that Soeripto's appointment was reached after prior consultation with the state secretariat and President Abdurrahman Wahid, who was already aware of the problem.

Abdurrahman had said earlier that he knew demonstrations against Soeripto at the forestry ministry were funded by certain parties at the ministry and, therefore, he would not cancel Soeripto's appointment based on the demonstrations.

The chairman of the development supervision institute, A. Hamid Rahayaan said his party was concerned with Soeripto's appointment and, therefore, it would soon file a lawsuit against President Abdurrahman Wahid and Nur Mahmudi.

"We will file our suit with the court either on Wednesday or Thursday next week," said A. Hamid Rahayaan, as quoted by

He also said earlier that the appointment of Soeripto was not acceptable because he was from Mahmudi's Justice Party.

But Soeripto flatly rejected the accusation and said: "I'm not a Justice Party man, nor one of its founders."

Soeripto vowed that he would not back off because of repeated demonstrations by civil servants at the ministry against his appointment.

Instead, he would go ahead with his plan to combat corruption, collusion and nepotism (KKN) practices rampant at the ministry. He said he understood that he was entering a jungle of KKN problems at the ministry.

He said the challenges he would face in performing his duties would be prevailing "New Order's values" in the existing legal apparatus, which could obstruct legal proceedings against government officials involved in KKN practices.

Soeripto said that if he meets difficulties in bringing those responsible for past wrongdoings to trial using the existing law, he would use an "alternative trial" through a political process at the House of Representatives to resolve the problem.

But first of all, he said, he would submit all KKN cases to the Attorney General's Office. But if there were no follow-up measures, he would submit the data to House members to follow up.

"I will take unsolvable ministerial KKN cases to a people's trial," he said, referring to the House.

To help his work, he said, he would set up information posts to gather information from communities, non-governmental organizations, timber companies and the media.

He promised to follow up on all complaints from communities regarding forest management. (06)