Wed, 18 Oct 2000

VP reproaches insensitive countries

JAKARTA (JP): Speaking before representatives from some 120 parliaments, Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri reproached some "friendly countries" for their insensitivity toward Indonesia's complex problems.

Without identifying the "friendly countries", Megawati during her opening speech at the general debate of the 104th Inter- Parliamentary Union (IPU) conference here on Tuesday said their leaders had actually exacerbated problems faced by Indonesia.

"They are not only insensitive to the difficulties we are encountering, they have even displayed an indication of complicating our nation in a situation which is already very difficult," Megawati remarked.

She said there had been an increasing impression in Indonesian society that certain leaders "show arrogance which is not in line with the new atmosphere of international relationships".

Megawati's remarks come at a time when Indonesia is under international scrutiny.

While she did not specifically refer to the United States directly, it is well known that Washington has imposed an arms embargo on Indonesia.

Nevertheless Megawati unhesitatingly referred to such embargoes as moves that arouse further social conflict.

She noted that while Indonesian law enforcers were told to ensure protection of human rights, they are stifled in the facilities available to them.

"We see as an irony that friendly countries, which have urged us to continue in our endeavors to advance and protect our people's human rights, are concurrently enforcing an embargo of supplies of mobility means and of the minimum equipment needed.

"This kind of policy is equal in meaning with allowing social horizontal conflicts to be rampant with all of the saddening consequences," she remarked.


Referring to the week-long conference which was opened on Sunday, Megawati expressed hope that it would provide an opportunity for the delegates, who are supposed to represent people from all over the world, to exchange opinions on various problems.

She added that each nation should develop its own format fitting its historical and sociocultural context to meet the universal standards of norms of democracy.

While high ideals were placed on the conference, the atmosphere at the general plenary session, where each delegation took turns to present their general view, was lethargic.

Few lawmakers attended the session, as a majority of the some 1,200 delegates took turns to vacate the main conference hall.

But in another room there was fierce debate in the drafting committee tasked to formulate a resolution on the Middle East.

The committee consists of representatives from Indonesia, Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria, Germany, Russia, France, Mali, Thailand, Uruguay and Guatemala.

Almost all members of the committee refused to comment on the results of the meeting.

"We agreed not to reveal (issues discussed at) the meeting," a member of the committee from Thailand said as he left the meeting room.

However Indonesia's Joko Susilo, a member of the drafting committee, claimed that the meeting agreed to mention former Israeli defense minister Ariel Sharon as the provocateur of the recent Middle East violence.

"It was suggested by Indonesia, Morocco and Algeria and finally agreed upon after the French delegate supported it," Joko remarked.

Another contentious point was whether the resolution would condemn Israel. Joko said that if the resolution did not, Indonesia felt that it was better for the IPU to completely scrap the resolution.

The committee is due to complete the draft on Wednesday. (jun)