Fri, 12 May 2000

Yusril says Habibie helped PBB secure Rp 1 billion

JAKARTA (JP): Crescent Star Party (PBB) chairman Yusril Ihza Mahendra insisted on Thursday the role former president B.J. Habibie played in the raising of a Rp 1 billion fund donated to the party last year.

"The matter has been settled. There is no difference between my account and Pak Habibie's explanation," Yusril told reporters after a seminar on Islamic boarding schools here.

Yusril was responding to Habibie's statement, read by his secretary Watik Pratiknya on Monday, that Yusril had asked for the fund but that it was never approved. Habibie claimed that he suggested Yusril seek help from other parties.

On Thursday Yusril rectified Habibie's denial.

Yusril said during their conversation in November 1998, Habibie told him that he could not meet his donation request, but offered to help.

"He told me: 'Let's see how we can handle this,' and later on the money was collected. Maybe it did not come from him directly, but we knew the fund was raised thanks to him," Yusril recounted.

Yusril, who is also the minister of law and legislation, said it was not necessary for him to know who the donors were.

During the recent party congress, Yusril admitted in his accountability speech that he received the fund from Habibie to finance a national meeting in February, 1999.

The row over the fund has spilt the party, with a group of 16 senior party members claiming that last month's congress was illegitimate, so was the reelection of Yusril. The group has announced its plan to sue Yusril for alleged graft.

Hartono Mardjono, one of the group's members, said they have reported the case to the Police for further investigation.

"The Police should find out whether the donation was given to the party or to Yusril personally," he said.

He insisted the party's former executive board knew nothing about the fund and its usage.

Yusril played down the possible lawsuit, saying he had never broken any law regarding the donation.

The Election Law passed last year limits the amount of individual donations to political parties to Rp 15 million a year maximum. An institution's aid is Rp 150 million.

The General Election Commission (KPU) said on Thursday Habibie's explanation was unacceptable.

"KPU cannot treat Habibie's letter as an authentic document in our investigation into the case because his signature is different than the signatures one finds on other documents," Agus Miftach, KPU's acting chairman, told a press conference.

Agus said KPU would go ahead with its plan to ask Habibie to appear on May 23 for questioning.

He also said the probe into alleged money politics involving Golkar Party was still underway.

He said the commission would summon former trade and industry minister Rahardi Ramelan, former forestry minister Muslimin Nasution, and executives of one of former president Soeharto's foundations Dakab for questioning following reports that Golkar in the past received a total of Rp 288 billion from Dakab, the National Logistics Agency (Bulog), state forest-related enterprises PT Inhutani and Apkindo. (rms/dja)