Indonesian Parliament Forms Team to Probe Scandals Linked to President
Indonesia's parliament has formed a special commission to investigate two financial scandals allegedly linked to President Abdurrahman Wahid, legislators said Wednesday.
In a plenary session on Tuesday parliamentary factions submitted the names of MPs who will be members of the 50-strong commission, the Republika daily said.
The commission can summon the president to explain his role in a 4.1 million dollar embezzlement scam at the National Logistics Agency (Bulog) allegedly pulled off by Wahid's masseur, as well as the fate of a two-million-dollar "gift" from the Sultan of Brunei.
"We can summon the president because the two cases are related to institution of the presidency," Ali Yahya of the Golkar party told AFP, but he did not say whether the commission would exercise its right.
Yahya said no decision had yet been made on when to open the probe, adding that it would be decided later by the parliament's Consultative Body.
Bulog deputy chairman Sapuan, standing trial for the "Bulogate" scam has alleged that the masseur acted on behalf of Wahid when he requested the 4.1 million dollars from the agency in December.
He said the funds were supposed to be used for humanitarian assistance in the rebellious province of Aceh.
Wahid has insisted that he is "clean" and challenged the MPs to prove that he has done anything wrong in connection with the scam, the funds from which have since been returned by the masseur's family and colleagues.
Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah's "gift" was channeled through Wahid but there has been no accounting of when, where and for what purpose the money was disbursed, the MPs charge.
Wahid has said the money was a personal gift, but later said it was a donation by the Sultan to local non-governmental organizations, and that he had never received the money.
The parliamentary investigations into the two cases -- which the local press have dubbed "Bulogate" and "Bruneigate" -- have set the stage for another collision betwen Wahid and the parliament.
The lawmakers are struggling to convince the public that parliament is no longer the rubber stamp institution it was during the era of former authoritarian president Suharto.
Under a right held by parliament, the MPs can probe specific cases involving the government if misconduct or irregularities are suspected and, if necessary, ask the president to explain them.
In July Wahid angered MPs by refusing their demand that he explain his decision to fire two ministers in April.
In Tuesday's plenary session, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP), which has the largest bloc of seat in the House, withdrew its support for a parliamentary motion to issue an opinion over Wahid's refusal.
"In line with party policy, we consider that this issue is finished," PDIP parliamentary faction chairman Panda Nababan was quoted as saying by the Suara Karya daily.
The PDIP is led by Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri – JAKARTA (AFP)
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