Back to Home Page National News March 30, 2001
Wowor speaks up on Bruneigate
JAKARTA (JP): A businessman who acted as a mediator in the matter of
the US$2 million donation to Indonesia made by the sultan of Brunei,
amplified President Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid's explanation of the
ensuing scandal on Thursday, saying the donation came from a member of
the Brunei royal family and was earmarked as his personal contribution
to humanitarian causes in Indonesia.
Ario Wowor, who does business in Brunei and is close to the royal
family, agreed to act as an intermediary between the Bruneian donor
and the President in channeling the donation.
"The member of the royal family made known his intention of offering
the funds as personal alms for the needy in Indonesia and I brought
the offer to the notice of the President. The latter accepted it but
appointed Haj Masnuh, a functionary in Nahdlatul Ulama (the largest
Muslim organization), to manage it.
"Following the meeting with the President, I went back to Brunei to
convey his positive response to the member of the royal family who
later sent the funds to Masnuh's bank account on Jan. 15, 2000," he
told a press conference.
The President said in his reply to the House of Representatives' first
memorandum of censure on Wednesday that Wowor played a dominant role
in channeling the donation and that later the funds were obtained by
Wowor further said he regretted that the funds had became a source of
political conflict between the President and the House.
"Both the government and the House should thank the Brunei royal
family for the donation, instead of bickering over the origin of the
funds and making it a political commodity," he asserted.
He said he felt very uneasy and embarrassed upon witnessing the
House's recent investigation into the scandal.
"The President and the House should stop the dispute because it has
tarnished the country's image overseas," he said.
What's important was to check whether the funds were used in line with
the donor's original intention, he added.
"The House should have public accountants audit the use of the
donation so as to ensure that it is all accounted for," he said.
Meanwhile, Faisal Riza Rachmat, chairman of the Forum for Action and
Studies on Democracy (Fosad), attacked certain parties in the House
who wanted to topple the President using the Brunei scandal and the Rp
35 billion (US$2.5 million) Bulog financial scam.
"The two financial scandals are part of a political ploy launched by
certain Muslim legislators to topple the President, whom they consider
to have stymied their sectarian interests," he said.
According to Faizal, it was very unfair to blame Gus Dur for the
continued political instability, sectarian conflicts and economic
crisis assailing the country.
"The political instability, the collapse of the rupiah and the recent
sectarian conflicts have much to do with the continued conflict among
the members of the political elite," he said.
He also said that if the nation was truly committed to fighting all
out against corruption, all major corruptors from the former New Order
era and in the present bureaucracy should be brought to court.
"It is very strange that the House has been highly enthusiastic about
these two financial scandals while it does nothing about the
corruption cases in the state-owned oil company Pertamina, the
National Logistics Agency (Bulog) and other state-owned companies and
state agencies that have resulted in losses of hundreds of trillions
of rupiah to the state," he said.
He called on the members of the political elite to end the conflicts
and join forces to rebuild the nation and to win back international
confidence in Indonesia.
"The situation will continue to worsen and the people will be unable
to survive the economic hardship if the conflicts among the
politicians continue," he said. (rms)
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