News Focus: Court testimony confirms corruption rife in parliament

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Testimony at a Corruption Court session on Monday that 52 legislators had received Rp100 billion in bribes from Bank Indonesia (BI) for the revision of a BI bill was big news by any standard.

Yet, to many people the disclosure was not surprising at all because it only confirmed the public`s long-standing perception that their parliament is one of the country`s corrupt institutions.

House of Representatives (DPR) Speaker Agung Laksono said the names of the alleged recipients of BI funds, including legislators, had been known to the public for a long time so that they were not surprised to hear the disclosure in the ongoing Corruption Court sessions.

"The names have been circulating for a long time. It will be better for us to leave it to the court," Agung said at the DPR building on Monday.

Hamka Yandhu, who was a member of Commission IX of the House of the 1999-2004 period, told a Corruption Court hearing on Monday that Rp100 billion in Bank Indonesia funds were distributed to 52 other Commission-IX members at the time.

He made the statement when he was questioned as a witness in the trial of former BI legal affairs deputy director Oey Hoe Tiong and former BI communication bureau head Rusli Simanjuntak in the illegal BI funds transfer case.

Recipients of the `bribes included two legislators who have now become ministers in President Susilo Bambang Yudhohono`s cabinet.

Hamka Yandhu, a suspect in the BI fund flow case in 2003, disclosed in Monday`s session the names of House members who received the BI funds in 2003. When giving testimony as a witness for the second defendant, Oey Hoy Tion, a former BI official, Hamka said most of the House`s Commission IX members representing various political parties had received the funds.

The amount of money received by each of the commission members varied between Rp250 million and Rp500 million. The amounts given to each of the legislators was decided by Antony Zeidra Abidin, a legislator who had also been named a suspect in the case.

according to Hamka, some of the money flowed to 13 members of the House`s Commission IX from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP). Each of them, among others, Sutarto, Sukono and Max Moein, received Rp250 million.

The money also flowed to a number of politicians from the United Development Party (PPP), among others, Daniel Tanjung, Endin Soefihara and Habil Marati. He said the amount of money reached Rp500 million.

Members of the National Awakening Party (PKB) faction also received part of the funds. Some Rp1 billion was given to Amru Al Mutazim in four installments which were later distributed to Ali As`ad, Aris Siagian and Amin S.

The same amount of money also flowed to members of the Armed Forces/Police faction in the House at that time, namely to Darsuf Yusuf, R. Sulistyadi, Suyitno and Uji Suheri.

Hamka also said Forestry Minister MS Kaban received Rp300 million while Minister for National Development Planning Paskah Suzetta got Rp1 billion when he was chairman of the House`s Commission IX. He said he personally handed Rp1 billion in four installments to Suzetta and Rp300 million to Kaban.

The case of BI funds flowing to members of the House of Representatives (DPR) came to the surface when the State Audit Board reported the case to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in November 2006.

According to the BPK report, BI disbursed Rp96.25 billion to lawmakers and law enforcers in an effort to help overcome legal problems being faced by BI officials involved in the bad BI liquidity assistance (BLBI) debts case.

Hamka said the money was provided in connection with the BLBI legal problem and deliberations on a BI bill. The BLBI was emergency liquidity credits extended to commercial banks during the financial crisis which begain in mid 1997 but later turned bad.

President to respect legal process

Presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would respect the legal process and facts in regard to legislator Hamka Yandhu`s allegation that two cabinet ministers were among the recipients of illegal BI funds.

Presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng was referring to the statement made by Hamka in the Corruption Court session that Minister Paskah Suzetta and Minister MS Kaban had received part of the BI funds when they both were members of the House?s Commission IX of the 1999-2004 period.

"As for the president, he leaves it to whatever the legal facts are. The people concerned can defend themselves based on the principle of presumption of innocence," Malarangeng told reporters.

Minister Paskah Suzetta himself denied the allegation saying he was sure of his own innocence in connection with Hamka`s testimony in court that he had received Rp1 billion of the BI funds.

"I am sure I am innocent but everything will depend on the ruling of a court of law," Suzetta said adding he would submit to any legal process the court would decide if he was found guilty.

Minister MS Kaban also refuted the accusation. He said he never received Rp300 million from Hamka, which the BI had provided for the revision of a BI bill. "I sm really mot aware about the funds. I have never been a member of the team tasked with revising the BI law," he said.

Kaban said he had also been summoned by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to give testimony on the alleged illegal BI fund flow for the revision of the BI law.

On the other alleged recipients, the House of Representatives will ask its Council of Ethics to take a stand.

"I ask the DPR Ethics Council to react soon (to Yandhu`s statement) and I will also meet with the council`s chairman soon to discuss it," Agung Laksono said. (*)


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