Sat, 29 Apr 2000

Yusril owns up to taking Rp 1b from Habibie

JAKARTA (JP): Crescent Star Party (PBB) chairman Yusril Ihza Mahendra acknowledged on Friday accepting Rp 1 billion from then president B.J. Habibie to help finance the newly established party prior to the 1999 general election.

Yusril said his party received a total of Rp 2.9 billion in financial assistance -- including Rp 1.57 billion in donations from supporters and the Rp 1 billion from Habibie -- since its founding in July 1998.

"All the funds were used to finance the party's programs, especially during the 1999 general election," he said in his accountability speech at the party's congress here on Friday.

An unabashed Yusril, who is the minister of law and legislation, defended the action.

He said Habibie's contribution was not illegal because it was donated prior to the implementation of the 1999 law on political parties which regulates campaign contributions.

"Please, give me evidence that the financial assistance was against the law. I'm ready to undergo a police investigation into it," he said.

"Besides, many other parties received funds from the former president too." He did not identify the parties.

Yusril denied last year allegations he received some Rp 1.5 billion in campaign funding from Habibie.

The issue of the contribution is among the fissures which have divided the party congress.

Yusril is expected to be reelected chairman when the congress closes on Sunday as 13 of the 28 provincial chapters declared acceptance of his accountability speech and supported his leadership.


The internal discord came to a head on Friday when 16 of the party's outgoing officials walked out of the congress.

Kholil Ridwan, the party's outgoing deputy chairman, accused some party figures of political engineering for the sake of personal interests.

"We see a number of uninvited participants disturbing the congress. Each time we enter the congress we are harassed and terrorized for not supporting the reelection of the outgoing chairman."

Kholil said he and the 15 other officials would boycott the congress if the "uninvited participants" were not expelled.

Fadli Zon, another outgoing deputy chairman, said the officials' rejected Yusril's accountability of his leadership.

"Over the last year, Yusril and the outgoing secretary-general (M.S. Ka'ban) led the party with an iron fist and both failed to solve internal conflicts among the outgoing executive board."

Fadli urged the police to investigate Yusril's alleged involvement in money politics.

"The party received donations, including the one from Habibie, but they were never disclosed in party meetings," he said.

"He (Yusril) was involved in money politics because the donation was received in the middle of February 1999 while the law on political parties took effect on February 1, 1999."

Achmad Sumargono, chairman of the PBB faction at the House of Representatives, acknowledged the outgoing executive board was not consulted by Yusril before presenting the accountability speech.

Achmad said he disagreed with many parts of Yusril's speech. (rms)