Tue, 05 Aug 2003

PDIP fights against other factions to save Megawati

M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post,Jakarta

The Reform faction at the People's Consultative Assembly on Monday demanded an independent probe into the business dealings of President Megawati Soekarnoputri's family and associates, comparing her tactics to those conducted by former dictator Soeharto.

The Reform faction, which is dominated by members of Assembly Speaker Amien Rais' National Mandate Party (PAN) party, continued attacks first launched on Saturday.

It called for the establishment of an independent supervisory committee on the business activities of the president's family.

Deputy chairman of the faction Fuad Bawazier said the committee could investigate the businesses of the President's family and ensure they were honest.

The attempts were voted down by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), of which Megawati is chairwoman.

The party, the nation's largest, also blocked moves by the National Awakening Party (PKB) and PAN for Megawati to present an accountability report to the Assembly during the next Annual Session in 2004.

Syafrin Romas of the PKB faction said Megawati was elected by the current MPR and therefore should present an accountability speech to the body that elected her.

"It will be much better if the accountability speech could be delivered in April 2004 before the term of President Megawati ends," he told Commission C1.

Megawatt's current term should end in October 2004.

PDI Perjuangan was quick to block the PKB's proposal.

Mangara Lumban Tobing of the PDI Perjuangan faction said the proposal was dangerous for the country.

"We don't want next year's session to become a meeting where factions launch attacks on the President's personal life like what happened the other day," he said, referring to Saturday's criticism of Megawati's family.

PDI Perjuangan even succeeded in pushing back next year's planned Assembly session from April, as demanded by a number of factions such as the PKB, to September 2004.

This means that the accountability report from Megawati -- if it is eventually agreed by all factions -- would have little impact on her bid for reelection as the first stage of the presidential elections is likely be held in August.

PDI Perjuangan, nevertheless, faced another attack from the Golkar faction, the second largest at the MPR, and PAN at the MPR's Commission C2 overseeing recommendations for state institutions, including the office of the president.

Golkar and PAN openly criticized, among other things, the President's decision to purchase Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jets, which they said violated various laws and regulations.

They also criticized the President for her failure to root out corruption, collusion and nepotism, as mandated by the Assembly through a decree.

They suggested that all those things be included in the recommendations to the President.

PDI Perjuangan did not back down and struck back by proposing the assembly recommend that the House of Representatives (DPR) set up an honorary council to decide on the fate of its speaker Akbar Tandjung, the chairman of Golkar, who was convicted of corruption.

"How can people trust an institution led by a person who has been sentenced to jail for corruption?" Dwi Ria Latifah of PDI perjuangan asked.

The Golkar faction said the Assembly did not have the authority to make such a recommendation.

"It could not take the place of the Supreme Court, which is currently dealing with Pak Akbar's case."