Sat, 04 Nov 2000

President doesn't object to my meeting, says Kwik

JAKARTA (JP): Former Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Finance and Industry Kwik Kian Gie continued his push for a meeting between top legislators to discuss the state of the nation, and received a nod of approval from the President on Friday.

Speaking to reporters after meeting with Abdurrahman at the presidential palace, Kwik claimed the President had not objected to the meeting.

Kwik said Abdurrahman admitted that he had not read the notice sent to him concerning the meeting but said that such a gathering was part of the democratic process.

Kwik said he briefed Abdurrahman on the aims of the meeting which was designed as "a medium for expressing opinions" by legislators without representing their own political parties.

Kwik also said the President had expressed no concerns that the meeting would be used as a means to rattle the government. The meeting, pledged Kwik, would not reach any conclusions and would be open for press coverage.

Before his meeting with Abdurrahman on Friday, Kwik on Thursday evening paid a call on House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung.

Akbar, who is also chairman of the Golkar Party, said on Friday that he would not attend the meeting as he had a prior party engagement in Central Java.

But he stressed that he did not object to the meeting and called on those attending to use the name of the House as an institution when voicing their opinions during the meeting.

But the planned meeting is already facing opposition from the President's own National Awakening Party (PKB) and the Indonesian Military (TNI)/Police faction who have said that they would not attend.

Akbar viewed the PKB's rejection as being based on an initial assumption that the meeting would end up trying to discredit the President or the government.

"But the TNI/Police faction's absence is understandable as their organization is very tight," he remarked.

PKB chairman Matori Abdul Djalil on Friday "suggested" that party members should not attend the meeting.

He also questioned the purpose of convening such a meeting outside the confines of the House as it was supposed to be solely attended by legislators.

"There's no reason to attend the meeting. But it's Kwik's right (to organize one)," Matori, who is also Deputy Speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly, said.

Meanwhile, Abdul Kholiq Achmad, secretary of the PKB faction in the House, revealed that Matori had also issued a formal "suggestion" not to attend the meeting during a party plenary session earlier on Friday.

"The PKB opposes the meeting and its legislators are barred from attending it because it is sponsored and attended by House members who are disappointed with the government's performance," he told reporters.

Achmad said that according to Matori, Kwik's present political stance on the government differed from his previous one when he served as a coordinating minister.

Achmad pointed out that while in the cabinet Kwik was full of support for the President but was now becoming increasingly disenchanted with the government.

"And the more than 170 legislators who have confirmed their presence at the meeting are Gus Dur's critics and those who have supported the ongoing investigation into Buloggate," he said referring to the House probe on a corruption scandal allegedly involving the President.

At least 167 legislators have registered to attend the meeting which is expected to take place at the Hotel Mulia, South Jakarta. (jun/rms/byg)