President summons Dahlan over tension
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Heated tensions between lawmakers and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan caught the attention of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who summoned the minister to a face-to-face meeting on Monday.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Dahlan said he and Yudhoyono discussed issues relating to the alleged “collusion” between executives of state enterprises and the House of Representatives.
He refused to elaborate, saying “I did not ask the President if the discussions could be disclosed to the press.” He also refused to confirm rumors that the President had told him to maintain a good relationship with the lawmakers.
He did, however, confirm that “The President is consistent that any form of [collusion] is prohibited.”
The tension between lawmakers and Dahlan began last week after the Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam issued a circular on Sept. 28, addressed to ministers, ministry officials
and executives of state enterprises, demanding that they avoided any form of collusion, gratuity or bribery to any parties including House members.
The circular is said to be a response to Dahlan’s report to Dipo regarding several lawmakers who had demanded kickbacks in exchange for funding approvals for state-owned enterprises during the deliberation of the 2013 state budget, which was passed on Oct. 3.
Lawmakers offended by the circular attacked Dahlan. This included House Speaker Marzuki Alie, who said Dahlan was “not too clean” himself.
When asked if Yudhoyono had asked him to reveal the names of the “extorting politicians”, Dahlan would not comment.
Earlier in the day, Dahlan told reporters that he would reveal the names of lawmakers who had demanded kickbacks. Such illegal practices, he went on, had occurred since his time as president director of state electricity company PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), from 2009 to 2011.
“I am not being slanderous here. If the House wants me to reveal [the names of the lawmakers], then I will. But let’s wait until they summon me again,” Dahlan said.
Lawmakers’ anger toward Dahlan has been aggravated by his absence at two recent hearing sessions at the House to discuss a report from the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) on the performance of PLN.
The BPK report reveals a Rp 36.7 trillion (US$3.81 billion) worth of “inefficiencies” from the poor development of the company’s coal-powered electricity generators, which led to the costly purchase of diesel-powered generators.
Effendi Simbolon of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) who chaired the hearing session said Dahlan’s presence was paramount to clarify the report. Effendi said investigations into similar BPK reports in the past had uncovered corrupt practices.
Separately, the BPK deputy head Hasan Bisri rejected claims made by lawmakers that “inefficiencies” in the PLN had led to state losses.
In a text-message sent to The Jakarta Post on Monday, Hasan said that while the BPK had indeed found “inefficiencies” in the PLN’s budget from 2009 to 2010, the bureau had never stated that the state suffered losses due to the mismanagement.
“We use the word ‘inefficiencies’ [in our report]. If we used the term ‘state losses’, there should have been criminal elements involved. What happened in the PLN was not necessarily the result of fraudulent practices,” he said. (sat)