Saturday, May 19, 2007

President told to get tough on high-level corruption

Wednesday, April 04, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Professionals, lawmakers, academics and journalists have joined forces to urge President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to honor his campaign commitment to eradicate corruption at all levels.

In a communique issued Tuesday, the group Civil Society Professionals asked the government to target those involved in major corruption cases.

"We support the work of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), the Anti-Corruption Court and other institutions enforcing the law and attempting to eradicate corruption, and the drive against those who have stolen billions of rupiah, such as in the Bulog case. But it is only right that they be asked not to forget those who have stolen hundreds of trillions of rupiah," Hidayat Nur Wahid, speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), told reporters during the release of the communique at the Sultan Hotel in Jakarta.

He said it was his duty as a lawmaker to remind the government that MPR Decree No. 11/1998 required a state free from corruption, collusion and nepotism, and that MPR Decree No. 8/2001 demanded the eradication of corruption.

"What we are declaring today is meant to emphasize and to remind us all that the state still has obligations to discharge in relation to these decrees.

"What the President initially instructed and what has been mandated through the MPR decrees seems to be getting no support from law enforcement agencies. In fact, they should be at the front in corruption eradication," said Hidayat.

The communique was signed by 10 leading figures, including Hidayat, Syafii Ma'arif of the Muslim organization Muhammadiyah, Hasyim Muzadi of Nahdlatul Ulama, scholar Ichlasul Amal, lecturer Franz Magnis-Suseno, economist Faisal Basri and rights lawyer Patra Zen.

The chairman of Civil Society Professionals, Ismet Hasan Putro, told reporters: "This is the time for serious and tough law enforcement against state officers and businessmen who embezzled funds from Bank Indonesia liquidity funds, causing more than Rp 600 trillion (US$65.9 billion) in losses to the state."

Ismet added that there were at least three tycoons who still owed more than Rp 50 trillion to the state. He identified the three as Anthony Salim, Samsul Nursalim and Sukanto Tanoto.

He claimed these men were declared bankrupt in 1998 but in five to six years time had re-amassed their wealth and the assets they handed over to the state were not equivalent to the amount of money they owed.

"How can people like these be allowed to be present at a function at the Presidential Palace? At a time the people are struggling for rice, (they) were having coffee with the President. The money that should have been confiscated from them would be enough to feed the people," he said.

Ismet said the President needed to offer firmer leadership in the war on corruption.

Faisal Basri, a leading economist, who also attended the meeting, said "Those who embezzled the (Bank Indonesia liquidity) funds are criminals, but the state has allowed them the opportunity to hand over assets equivalent to the amount they had to repay. However, they still tried to deceive the state by repurchasing their assets or offering them to others as collateral."

He said these entrenched economic tycoons were dangerous because they were still dictating to the government and law enforcement agencies.(02)

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