Legislators dismiss Gus Dur’s efforts

Parliament has strong grounds to move against him, they say.

Legislators yesterday brushed aside last-ditch efforts by President Abdurrahman Wahid to use what they said were “legal loopholes” to give himself breathing space and escape impeachment, saying that Parliament had strong grounds to move against him.

Parliament Speaker Akbar Tandjung said MPs were not concerned by Justice and Human Rights Minister Baharuddin Lopa’s comments that the Supreme Court could nullify the two censure motions against the Indonesian leader.

He maintained that the Supreme Court did not have the authority to do so.

Nor could it overrule the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) – the country’s highest legislative body – if it took up Parliament’s call to hold a special session.

“We have the constitutional right to rebuke the President if he has done something against the interest of the nation,” Mr Akbar told The Straits Times.

“Gus Dur still has time to rectify his mistakes. If he insists on fighting us, then we have no choice but to impeach him.” Even as he made these comments, legislators from eight parliamentary factions met for talks in the house of United Development Party (PPP) chairman Hamzah Haz yesterday with impeachment on the top of their agenda.

Sources who attended the meeting said Parliament would not back down in the face of threats of violence – or even the move by Mr Abdurrahman to turn to the legal system for protection.

The palace appears to be trying to exploit any legal loophole available to give Mr Abdurrahman political breathing space, one source said.

The sources also charged that Mr Abdurrahman’s backers were trying to arm-twist Attorney-General Marzuki Darusman into dropping the “Bruneigate” case – one of two damning financial scandals which triggered the censure of the President by Parliament.

The case revolved around the President having received US$2 million (S$3.6 million) from the Sultan of Brunei for humanitarian assistance programmes in Aceh and other provinces.

The A-G’s Office said it found no wrongdoing after an investigation. But legislators were sceptical.

Mr Melono Soewondo, a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) – the largest parliamentary faction and headed by Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri said it was inconceivable for the A-G’s Office not to have come up with anything.

“How can Marzuki carry out a proper investigation with Gus Dur still in power?” he said.

“The only way to go about it is to get the President to resign his position and Gus Dur is unlikely to do that. So, he prefers to sweep all the dirt under the carpet.”

A PPP legislator who attended the meeting at Mr Hamzah’s house said the view shared by the different parties was that the longer Mr Abdurrahman stayed in power, the greater the threat to Indonesia.

“Gus Dur knows that he will face opposition from Parliament if he tries to use the courts to escape. He wants to create chaos so that he can then call for a state of emergency. We won’t give him the chance,” the legislator said.

Posted in Indonesia