Fri, 12 May 2000

PKB tells Gus Dur to publicly declare his wealth

JAKARTA (JP): Amidst growing accusations of corruption and collusion within the government, the National Awakening Party (PKB) urged party founder President Abdurrahman Wahid to set an example and publicly document his finances.

"The President should be the first one to announce his financial status. It could be followed by the House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung doing so too," PKB secretary-general Muhaimin Iskandar said on Thursday.

Muhaimin, who is also the House deputy speaker, said various accusations of corruption, collusion and nepotism allegedly conducted by the president's inner circle should be clarified since it could hurt the party's image.

Muhaimin also revealed that his colleagues, Syaifullah Yusuf, chairman of Ansor Youth Movement, a youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama, and Choirul Anam, PKB's East Java chapter chairman, would file a lawsuit against Tempo magazine due to its report on graft by those linked to the president and the party.

Meanwhile the secretary of PKB's faction at the House, Abdul Cholik Achmad, said the party has set up a clarification team to deal with the alleged graft charge against the President and his aids.


Separately in Bandung, Noted Muslim scholar Nurcholish Madjid said the president should not have been overly upset by allegations of collusion, corruption and nepotistic.

"Everybody, including a president, must take such allegations in a cool manner," Nurcholish told journalists after attending an professorship inauguration at Padjadjaran University.

Eradication of KKN practices had become the strongest theme of the reform movement, he said.

"Therefore, issues regarding KKN must be openly discussed, and the press plays its role as a medium to build public discourse. Therefore the press must get its freedom."

But Nurcholish also warned critics that the President is also a citizen who has the right to be protected from slander.

"He (the President) has the right to ask for evidence on the (press) allegations. I suggested that he take legal steps to deal with that."

Much of the speculation surrounding Abdurrahman is due to the fact that he led NU for 15 years, and many new officials are NU figures or those who are his close associates and relatives.

The president was particularly upset by an erroneous report by Surabay-based Jawa Pos daily, despite its having already acknowledged the error.

The president also failed to denounce intimidation by NU bansers on the daily and even accused it of being part of a conspiracy to unseat him.

"Gus Dur was also wrong when he seemed to support Banser guards who occupied the Jawa Pos editorial office. He (Gus Dur) should have found fault with such an old style approach. What would happen if the occupation was conducted by the government?" Nurcholish remarked.

"Whatever the problem is, the legal approach should be the answer," he said, citing that many cases such as genocide to thousands of Jews by Nazi Germany also ended up going to court.


Nurcholish, popularly known as Cak (brother) Nur, also censured any talk of a possible impeachment or even coup d'etat against the president.

"Those two things will bring about a bad precedence to Indonesian democracy. Once those two things take place, they will take place again and again in the future," he said.

Impeachment issues, in particular, have been aired in recent months especially with the planned general session of the People's Consultative Assembly coming up in August.

Nurcholish strongly defended Abdurrahman's leadership saying that he was a central figure in the establishment of a foundation for the country's democracy.

Nurcholish also warned that impeaching a president would be time consuming. "Let's deal with the problems based on the constitutions, laws and their conventions."

"Having a President like Gus Dur for five years is much better then suffering for decades due to the disruption of the democratic process. If he (Gus Dur) did something unacceptable, just don't vote for him next time," he said.

Separately political scientist Arbi Sanit urged the public, including political parties and organizations to avoid efforts to topple Abdurrahman.

"The country would become even worse with whoever replaced Abdurrahman as president," Arbi said in a seminar here on Thursday.

However, he suggested that the public work together to improve the work of State Institutions, such as the Supreme Court and the House of Representatives which in the last six months has only succeeded in endorsing the State Guideline (GBHN). (25/jun/sur)