Tue, 31 Oct 2000

PPP recalls member from DPR special committee

JAKARTA (JP): The United Development Party (PPP) has abruptly recalled Habil Marati's membership in the House of Representatives' Special Committee due difference in approach to financial scandals allegedly linked to the President.

While the party gave no official reason for the change, Habil claimed that it was due to differences over the true mission of the committee.

Habil said he did not condone the special committee's hidden mission to topple President Abdurrahman Wahid who was believed to be involved in the two scandals.

"I have the impression the special committee is conditioned by certain groups in the House to topple the President," he said.

Achmad Ferial, who was appointed by the party to replace Habil, confirmed his colleague's replacement.

He brushed aside the reasons for the change saying that Habil may have been needed by the party for other more important committees.

Nevertheless, he conceded that "the policy of the special committee's chairman differs with his (Habil's) personal stand".

The committee was formed to investigate the Bulog scandal centering on the release of Rp 35 billion from one of the agency's foundations to the President's masseuse, and possible improprieties related to a $2 million donation from the Sultan of Brunei to the President.

On Monday, the special committee continued its probe by questioning behind closed doors two executive staff from Bulog's Yanatera Foundation, Muharto and Mulyono Makmun, along with Soleh Sofyan former chief of Bulog's general affairs.

Didik Supriyanto who presided over the meeting, later told journalists that they had testified that former Bulog deputy chairman Sapuan agreed to disburse Rp 35 billion to masseur Suwondo as part of an effort to maintain Bulog which be believed was to be dissolved by the President.

When asked by journalists, Didik further denied suggestions that the probe was part of an elaborate plan to topple the President.

Meanwhile, Bambang Warih, a former legislator from the Golkar Party, called on the House to also investigate the misuse by former president Soeharto and his regime of non-budgetary funds worth trillions of rupiahs in Bulog and the state oil company Pertamina during the 1980s.(rms)