Gus Dur’s two financial scandals – Abdurrahman ‘was inconsistent on Buloggate amounts’
A 50-member parliamentary commission yesterday found President Abdurrahman Wahid guilty of ‘abuse of power’ in the Buloggate and Bruneigate scandals after a six-month probe. But its 33-page report, a copy of which was obtained by The Straits Times, offers no new or conclusive proof that the President benefited personally from the two financial scandals.
The investigation team found evidence to suggest that President Abdurrahman Wahid was linked to one of the key suspects in the Buloggate scandal, even though the Indonesian leader said otherwise.
“It is hard to deny that the President has a very close relationship with Suwondo,” the panel said in its 33-page report, which involved closed-door testimony by more than 20 people.
Mr Suwondo was the President’s masseur.
The report said the masseur had played a role in fixing a meeting last year between the President and Mr Salleh Sofyan, a senior Bulog official, to discuss the Bulog affair.
It noted: “It is odd that someone outside the presidential office can arrange such meetings. In his sworn testimony, Salleh himself admits that Suwondo had arranged a meeting with the President when he was on the run from the police.”
The report, however, makes no mention of whether Mr Suwondo had siphoned off any funds.
The Buloggate case involves the theft of 35 billion rupiah (S$7 million) from the national food agency, Bulog, by people claiming to have been acting on Mr Abdurrahman’s behalf.
The panel also insisted that contradictions in testimonies by key suspects and Mr Abdurrahman only strengthened its case. For example, it pointed out that the President had never been consistent in the amount that was taken from Bulog. It said that, in December 1999, the President told the then Trade and Industry Minister Jusuf Kalla that the amount was 100 billion rupiah. One month later, the figure increased by almost 85 per cent.
And in his testimony to Parliament in June last year, he mentioned 1.6 trillion rupiah.
“He cited different figures to different parties,” the report said.
Members of the probe team told The Straits Times that such inconsistencies only showed that the President and his supporters were “trying to cover up an already messy state of affairs”.
Said a legislator involved in the proceedings: “If it was all done above board, there would only have been one amount cited. But now there are at least three versions. It makes it even harder for us to believe the President’s innocence.”
The report said that Mr Abdurrahman had “good intentions” in raising funds for humanitarian purposes in Aceh and other restive provinces.
But there were questions as to why he had solicited the money without issuing a presidential decree.
“He claims that it would have taken a long time if there were consultations.”
Further doubts that the President was genuine in his motives were raised by the fact that the money was channelled to four individuals who had no links to the humanitarian assistance programme in Aceh.
The four, who included Mr Suwondo’s wife Teti Nursetiati, cashed cheques in amounts ranging from 5 billion rupiah to 15 billion rupiah between January and March last year, the report said, adding that some might have used the funds for their own businesses.