Headlines

Lawmakers target Dahlan
and his antics

Lawmakers long annoyed by Dahlan Iskan’s antics are blaming the state-owned enterprises minister for an alleged leadership mishap that led to the state suffering Rp 36 trillion (US$3.78 billion) in losses.

In response to a report by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) on the performance of PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), of which Dahlan was a president director from 2009 to 2011, legislators scheduled an impromptu hearing session on Monday and demanded answers.

The BPK report shows that Dahlan was responsible for PLN purchasing diesel-powered electricity generators following its inability to meet deadlines on the construction of coal-powered generators in the 10,000 Megawatt projects.

The report concluded that the decision, which led to soaring electricity subsidies, was a result of poor management of the company’s energy mix.

To the dismay of legislators, none of their top invitees attended the hearing. Dahlan preferred to accompany President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Yogyakarta for a microfinancing event, with Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Jero Wacik also being present.

“We invited Dahlan Iskan so that he could clarify a recent report from the BPK saying that the state had lost Rp 36 trillion thanks to the poor management of PLN during 2009-2010,” said Effendi Simbolon of the government’s opposition party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

Effendi said investigations into similar cases in the past had led to uncovering corrupt practices. He said the hearing would be rescheduled to Wednesday as many lawmakers were eager to ask questions.

As a minister, Dahlan has previously skipped two sessions at the House of Representatives.

House Speaker Marzuki Alie, notorious for his controversial comments, lambasted Dahlan (also a media mogul through his ownership in Jawa Pos Group) for his media antics, saying that Dahlan should “stop wasting his time sweet-talking the media and start to focus on his job.”

On social media website Twitter, Marzuki also criticized Dahlan, who he said “had been indulging himself in the media while completely forgetting his profession”, adding that the current state of PLN, which is both cash-strapped as well as having many blackouts, was down to the management of PLN under Dahlan.

Dahlan has long been considered a media darling thanks to his low profile persona and ability to engage with people from all walks of life, which included spending a night at a random farmer’s house. There has been speculation that attention-seeking Dahlan was vying for a presidential seat in 2014. No political party, however, openly showed support for him.

A political observer at the University of Indonesia, Iberamsjah, told The Jakarta Post that lawmakers were “clearly” unimpressed with Dahlan, and that his popularity had aggravated other politicians.

“If the lawmakers want to attack Dahlan, I think it is understandable,” he said.

On the other hand, Iberamsjah said that Dahlan must stop his antics in the public eye, and added, “It is high time for him to focus on his job.”

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