Tue, 18 Sep 2001

SEAG athletes, coaches query US$60,000 grant

JAKARTA (JP): Some Indonesian coaches and athletes at the Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur are beginning to inquire about the US$60,000 grant handed out by Taufik Kiemas, husband of President Megawati Soekarnoputri, to the National Sports Council (KONI) on Saturday.

A number of officials, including boxing coach Ucok Tanamal and Jhon Amapunyo, said they did not know about the "windfall" resulting from Taufik's brief tour.

Taufik, accompanied by Coordinating Minister for Welfare Yusuf Kalla and a number of legislators, gave a cash bonus to Wismoyo Arismunandar, representing the Indonesian contingent at the games, during a lunch at Dynasty Hotel in Kuala Lumpur.

It was not disclosed verbally what the money was intended for, except for Kalla's remarks, which said that the government really appreciated what the contingent had done during the SEA Games.

"With all the shortcomings, the athletes have shown quite a good performance. And the government appreciates that very much," Kalla told reporters about the gift on Saturday.

Some athletes and officials hope to receive their shares before they leave for home.

"If there is (such a grant), we are grateful for the generosity shown to the athletes and coaches. That extra allowance will help us to sort out souvenirs for families," said Jhon Amapunyo, another boxing coach, as quoted by Antara.

Some of the boxers admitted to being surprised or delighted at the news about Taufik's donation.

"We haven't been informed yet by KONI about the money," said boxer Hendrik Simangunsong, from North Sumatra. He was nodded by teammates Melky, Joko Suryono and gold medalist Albert Papilaya

Neither Nur Rochman nor Tonton, the latter being the gold medalist in the cycling competition, knew about it. "If it really is so, they'd better hand it out so that we can do some souvenir shopping for our families," Tonton said.

Meanwhile, KONI Treasurer Abdul Wahid said that it had been approved that only athletes, numbering some 541, would receive the extra allowance, "because available funds are limited."

"The athletes will each receive as much as $100. And they are not allowed to have someone else pick up the money," he said.

The 21st SEA Games, which was the first time that host Malaysia came out as the overall winner, closed on Monday. The Indonesians, who finished third in the medal standings for the second time in a row, are scheduled to return home on Wednesday.

However, many athletes who had completed their participation far before the closing ceremony, have already arrived in Jakarta.

Wahid said that they would need to talk further about whether those who had already gone home still deserved their portion because the grants were intended for souvenir-shopping. (01)