Monday, May 21, 2007

President not moved by election fund scam

Monday, May 21, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Despite heated debate over funding sources in the 2004 election, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will not order a thorough investigation into an alleged illegal inflow of funds into his Democratic Party, a close aide said Saturday.

"There is no need to conduct such an investigation because the financial report of the party's election campaign team has been submitted to the General Elections Commission (KPU). It is therefore the responsibility of the commission to conduct the investigation," presidential spokesman Andi A. Mallarangeng said, as quoted by the detik.com news portal Saturday.

He said Yudhoyono and Jusuf Kalla had never received funds from former fisheries minister and graft suspect Rokhmin Dahuri. He also dismissed media reports, which quoted former People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) speaker Amien Rais as saying the SBY campaign team had received funding from the U.S.

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Agung Laksono, also rejected the idea of conducting an investigation into the case.

"We'd better talk about the future. This investigation could distort the validity of all decisions that we have made in the past," he told reporters at a national meeting of the National Democratic Front here Saturday.

He did not elaborate on what he meant by all decisions in the past, but said political parties needed to explain their sources of income as the 2002 law on political parties and the 2003 law on presidential elections stipulates that parties and election candidates are prohibited from receiving donations from abroad, the state budget or anonymous sources.

Jusuf Rizal, director of Yudhoyono's 2004 election campaign team known as Blora Center, accused former fisheries minister and graft suspect Rokhmin Dahuri of fabricating the fact by saying the team had received Rp 40 million (approximately US$4,500) from the ministry.

He acknowledged that Rokhmin had offered financial assistance to the team, but he rejected it as he was not responsible for financial matters.

In a media statement sent to The Jakarta Post on Saturday, Rizal asked Rokhmin to reveal who in the center had received the money.

Calls for an immediate investigation into the case mounted after Amien Rais admitted that he had received money from Rokhmin Dahuri to finance his 2004 presidential election campaign. The admission has supported allegations that other presidential candidates had also received funds from Rokhmin.

Amien, the former chairman of the National Mandate Party, said he accepted Rp 200 million from Rokhmin, which he submitted to the party's treasurer, and another Rp 200 million through a member of the party's 2004 election campaign team.

According to Rokhmin's deposition, he also gave presidential candidate Megawati Soekarnoputri and her running mate Hasyim Muzadi Rp 275 million, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Jusuf Kalla Rp 200 million and Wiranto and running mate Salahuddin Wahid Rp 220 million.

All have denied receiving the funds.

Despite their denials, Deputy MPR speaker AM Fatwa has asked the Corruption Eradication Commission to investigate the alleged distribution of non-budgetary funds to presidential candidates in 2004.

Political observer Bara Hasibuan has also called upon the KPU to conduct an investigation into each political party that contested the 2004 elections.

"Such an investigation is very important in order to prevent any illegal fund-raising practices in the future," Bara said, adding that if Yudhoyono and Kalla received the funds, they should admit to having done so.

"This would be a good move and may help develop Indonesia into a more transparent state", he said.

He expressed hope that other presidential candidates would follow the example of Amien Rais, who revealed election irregularities and was willing to be held accountable for his wrongdoings. (02)

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