Sat, 16 Dec 2000

Wait-and-see stance on Sutiyoso: Council

JAKARTA (JP): City Council will take a wait-and-see stance over Governor Sutiyoso's status in the 1996 violent takeover of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) headquarters, saying that the council had no legal basis to take action.

"We will wait for the court to decide. There's no legal basis for the council to recommend (a possible) suspension or replacement of the governor," City Council Speaker Edy Waluyo told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Edy said Sutiyoso was allegedly involved in a case that took place before he was appointed governor, so City Council had no authority to question him.

Sutiyoso was appointed governor of Jakarta in 1998.

"If the court officially (later) asks the council to recommend his suspension in the interest of the trial than we will consider it.

"But it would happen after the governor is declared a defendant," Edy said.

He said the council's decision on the governor was not designed to defend Sutiyoso. It was due to existing regulations which did not provide authority for the council to do so.

"It's the President's right to suspend the governor, not us," Edy said.

Last month, a joint police and military team, mandated to probe the 1996 bloody attack on the PDI headquarters, named Sutiyoso, who was the Jakarta Military commander at the time, a suspect in the case.

His counterpart in the police, then Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Hamami Nata, also has the same status.

On the morning of July 27, 1996, "supporters" of a PDI splinter group led by Soerjadi -- with strong backing from the military -- forcefully took over the PDI headquarters on Jl. Diponegoro from supporters of then PDI leader Megawati Soekarnoputri, who is currently Vice President.

At least five people were killed and 23 others are still reported as missing from the attack, which triggered mass unrest in Central Jakarta. But many have claimed that the numbers were much higher than the official figures.

On Wednesday, Minister of Home Affairs and Regional Autonomy Lt. Gen. (ret) Surjadi Sudirdja said it was the President's right to dismiss the governor because of the 1996 case.

According to Government Regulation No. 108/2000 on the accountability of regional leaders, a provincial governor can be dismissed for complicity in a criminal case. This allows City Council to establish a special investigation team to further probe the case.

Sutiyoso has said he was ready to face any sanctions, including serving a prison sentence.

"This is a political case. I am a soldier and I was doing my job," he said.

Separately, several councillors interviewed by the Post on Friday shared Edy's remarks, saying that the council should wait for the court's ruling on the case.

"According to Law No.22/1999 on regional autonomy, all governors should be replaced two years after the law was issued, meaning that Sutiyoso should actually be replaced next year," the National Mandate Party (PAN) faction chief Wasilah Soetrisno said.

She said her faction had been discussing several names for Sutiyoso's replacement.

One of the leading candidates, she added, would be the current city secretary, Fauzi Bowo.

"However, it still depends on the biggest faction in the council," she said, referring to the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan).

PDI Perjuangan faction chief Audi Tambunan said his faction would not take any measures to dismiss Sutiyoso or find a replacement for his position.

"We have to maintain legal procedures and consider Sutiyoso innocent before the court issues his legal status. He should be replaced next year because that is what the regional autonomy law states," Audi said.

When asked to comment on his possible promotion, City Secretary Fauzi Bowo said, "It would be inappropriate of me to say anything about that because I am still a subordinate of the governor." (dja)