Tue, 07 Nov 2000

Susilo assures Japan safe investment in RI

TOKYO (JP): Less than one month after sending Coordinating Minister for the Economy Rizal Ramli to Japan, President Abdurrahman Wahid dispatched another senior minister in his bid to assure the Japanese government and businesspeople of safe investment in Indonesia.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Social and Security Affairs Gen. (ret) Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who arrived here on Sunday for a three-day visit, briefed participants of the Asian Statesmen's Forum on the Indonesian government's efforts to restore security, political stability and social order.

"My mission is to convince the Japanese government and private companies that the situation in our country is not as bad as described in the international media, although we acknowledge that we are facing several unresolved problems," said Susilo on Monday.

The minister's visit came after Rizal led a six-minister team to Tokyo in mid-October to attend the Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI), which resulted in the group's pledge to give a US$4.8 billion loan to Indonesia in the next fiscal year.

Japan, the largest donor and investor in Indonesia, received the President in November last year and in June this year. Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri has also considered a Tokyo visit, but the date for her arrival remains undecided.

Next month, about six ministers, including Minister of Industry and Trade Lt. Gen. (ret.) Luhut Panjaitan, are expected to come to Japan as investment flow remains slow from this country.

In his keynote speech, Susilo briefed the problems in Aceh, Irian Jaya, Maluku and West Timor. He said tension in the problematic territories stemmed from a weakening of people's solidarity and solidity as a nation.

"The government has done a lot to tackle these problems, but the economic crisis which occurred in 1997 and 1998 has hindered our efforts. It is interesting to note, however, that there is a wide gap between people's high expectations and the ability of the government to fulfill these demands," said Susilo.

He also acknowledged there was a growing disrespect toward the law, which has been evident in many places, often in the form of social disturbance and disobedience.

The minister said by learning from the mistakes of its predecessor, the present government would make dialog and negotiation a priority in settling conflicts.

"Firm action, including the use of force, is only the last resort if the integrity and the sovereignty of the nation is threatened," Susilo said.

The forum, held at the Imperial Hotel, was also attended by Japanese politicians, including State Secretary Keizo Takemi, academicians and Singapore's Minister of State for Communications and Information Technology Lim Swee Say.

A minor misunderstanding nearly marred the conference when Takemi told the media that the international community could provide nonmilitary assistance to help Indonesia put an end to the crisis, including the rampant violence in Irian Jaya, Aceh and Maluku, by involving international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and United Nations organizations.

"I have to clarify this statement as this is very sensitive to Indonesia, that these are completely our domestic matters," said Susilo, who was seated next to Takemi.

Takemi was seen approaching Susilo and explaining to the minister his real intention.

On Tuesday, Susilo is scheduled to meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs Yohei Kano, Minister of Finance Kiichi Miyazawa, the head of Japan Defense Agency (JDA) Kazuo Torashima, National Police chief Setsuo Tanaka and Intelligence chief Toshiyuki Takano. (prb)