The Jakarta Post
House of Representatives Speaker Ade Komarudin insisted on Monday that he would press ahead with his ambitious plan to build the largest library in Southeast Asia in the legislative complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta.
The Golkar Party politician said that he would immediately discuss the plan and seek support from House factions and deputy chairpersons after the recess period so that the construction of the new library could start soon.
The initiative to build the library originated with a number of intellectuals: Nirwan Dewanto, Nirwan Ahmad Arsuka and Nong Darol Mahmada, as well as Golkar politician Rizal Mallarangeng and Democratic Party executive Ulil Abshar Abdala.
The library is set to be a world-class one, like the Library of Congress in the US, which stores 36 million books, and will beat Singapore's National Library, currently the largest in Southeast Asia.
To be the largest in the region, Ade said that he would need to gather only 600,000 books to beat the total 500,000 books that Singapore's National Library has.
The aggressive plan to build the library has drawn criticism.
People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Deputy Speaker Hidayat Nur Wahid said he considered that the construction of the library was not urgently needed.
'The library should not become a priority. It's better for the lawmakers to focus on improving their legislative performances,' Hidayat said.
He also questioned how often the House members would go to the library. 'Only God knows,' said the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician.
NasDem Party faction deputy chairman Jhonny G. Plate said that House leaders should delay the construction of the library because of the country's weak economic condition.
'The country has the potential to face a Rp 290 trillion (US$21.6 billion) budget deficit this year. The funds allocated for the library would better go to open more job opportunities for people,' he said.
Furthermore, he added that physical books were antiquated and it was time to move to an e-library with e-books.
'We have to run with the development of technology. The House now needs more Wi-Fi and stronger internet connection to access data,' Johnny said.
The House Speaker said that he would pay no mind to any critic he considered as 'knowing nothing about the plan'.
'It's a good idea for the country, aimed at educating the nation, particularly younger generations. Why do the public or other parties still criticize?' he asked.
Ade also still insisted that there was no problem with the budget as he planned use some of the Rp 570 billion allocated in this year's budget for new legislative buildings, adding the House could ask for more funds in the revised state budget (APBN-P).
The idea to construct the library also appears amid the government's pressure to pass a tax amnesty bill.
Revision of the tax amnesty bill is at the initiative of the Golkar Party and is currently under deliberation by the House's Legislative Body (Baleg).
Ade said that he would immediately finish the deliberation of the bill so that the budget to build the library would be sufficient.
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