Sat, 13 May 2000

Sutiyoso away to Pusan to attend regional meeting

JAKARTA (JP): In a move to anticipate harsh criticism over city officials' costly lifestyles, Governor Sutiyoso decided to drop his planned trips to a Latin America country and an European country and accept a gratuitous invitation to a meeting of heads of cities for the Asia-Pacific region in Pusan, South Korea.

The governor left for the South Korean city on Friday evening.

Earlier on Thursday, Sutiyoso said he decided to leave for Pusan because he had to deliver a speech on city development in the meeting following a proposal which he had earlier sent to the committee.

"This trip will be of no burden to the City Budget as all of my expenses will be covered by the Pusan city administration.

"Besides, I will go on the weekend," he said.

The meeting is slated for Saturday and Sunday. The governor is expected to arrive home on Monday.

Besides Sutiyoso, Pusan will also cover the expenses for two city officials -- head of City Protocol Office Margani Mustar and head of Inter-City Cooperation Office Aurora Tambunan.

Debates on junkets by city officials have been very critical in recent weeks after city councillors took turns visiting several European countries in a so-called comparative study.

Many criticized the European trips as mere holidays, instead of having productive and serious purpose.

Sutiyoso was initially scheduled to take a 12-day trip to three countries.

However, he decided to prioritize his planned overseas trips and take the most important ones only.

"I dropped the plan to visit Brazil to sign a sister-city agreement with the city of Sao Paulo.

"I also dropped a planned visit to Sweden where I would have discussed a planned donation of fire fighting equipment from the Swedish government," he said.

"I can visit those countries later when the condition in our country is getting better and our economy is already recovered. But, I really have to go to Pusan," he added.

Another reason to cut the trips short was the fact that Sutiyoso is concentrating on preparing his yearly accountability speech to city councillors on June 2.

Many parties expect to topple him during the accountability session, accusing him of being unable to run the administration well.

However, City Council speaker Edy Waluyo said the speech was only a progress report and would pose no threat to his governorship.

"But if we find serious cases involving the governor, we can summon him for a special accountability speech. If we find him guilty, we can propose to the central government to dismiss him," he told reporters on Friday.

"The central government will have the full authority whether to dismiss the governor or not," he said. (nvn)