Friday, February 17, 2006

Another political ploy on Sudi?

A letter from Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi to Foreign Affairs Minister asking the latter to ‘consider’ PT Sun Hoo Engineering in the renovation of Indonesian Embassy Building in Seoul, South Korea quickly become a political debate.
This is the third time in two months that Sudi under the spotlight. Last month, lawyer-activist Eggy Sudjana spreaded the rumor that Sudi was among the president’s close aides who received luxury Jaguar car from media baron Harry Tanoesoedibyo. Eggy apologized later, but the damage has been done.
Last week, Sudi was under the gun for the courtesy call of four bad debtor-fugitives to the State Palace. Sudi denied that he arranged the visit. Police Chief Sutanto then came to be the bumper.
Some politicians, as quoted by Media Indonesia today, potrays Sudi’s letter as an abuse of power. Yudhi Chrisnandi (House Commission I from Golkar Party) said, “if the letter is really exist, that’s a serious power scandal.”
Other member from PDI-P, Suparlan said the selection of companies to renovate the building should be through an open bidding.
Sudi admits the letter. “But for God’s sake, I have nothing to do with the company. I got no gain from it at all.”
What’s the fuss?
Below is the free translation of Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi’s letter dated February 21, 2005 to Foreign Affairs Minister cc President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the management of PT Sun Hoo Engineering regarding the construction of Indonesian embassy building in Seoul, South Korea.
First, Ref. Management Letter of PT Coint Nusantara Gas No. 10/CNG/11/2004 dated December 6, 2004 regarding the project.
Second, the President in principle has no problem with the plan as dictated to Cabinet Secretary on December 13 in Yogyakarta, as long as to keep the old building and that the new building would only a supporting building pursuant to the best use and Seoul’s city planning.
Third, president gave guidance that the minister could respond and accepting a presentation from the management of PT Sun Hoo Engineering in the first chance, and then follow it up pursuant to the existing regulations (proposal attached).
Fourth, the presentation then should be reported to the President with recommendations needed.
Journalists stationed at the Vice President’s Office got the copy of the letter almost at the same time with the courtesy call of Indonesian Ambassador to South Korea Jacob Tobing (a long time Golkar politician but then jumped to PDI-P) few days ago.
Media failed, so far, to disclose the names behind two companies mentioned in the letter, PT Coint Nusantara Gas and PT Sun Hoo Engineering. Who own these companies? I tried to google them but got nothing.
Despite accusations that this is a political ploy against Sudi, the third strongest man in the cabinet after the president and vice president, the following questions are deserved answers.
First, why the management of PT Sun Hoo Engineering wrote the letter with construction proposal attached to Cabinet Secretary if the authority over embassies under the ministry of foreign affairs? Was it by design that Sun Hoo sent the letters to Cabinet Secretary and President instead of directly to minister of foreign affairs?
Second, why the President should lay his hands on something so trivial like renovating an embassy building far away in Seoul, South Korea and hands-off on so many things of great importance at home?
Look at the structure of the letter. The Cabinet Secretary, a retired lieutnant general, may deny over and over again that there was no pressure to pick PT Sun Hoo Engineering. But anybody, especially those work in the bureaucracy, who read the letter, could easily interpret that as a kind of favouritism, even though an open bidding would finally be conducted. And that could lead to a gross abuse of power.
Sudi, as quoted by Republika today, defended the letter though. According to Sudi, the letter was not intended as a direct appointment to build the embassy. “May be 10 companies will join the bidding. That’s why I’m asking, is it a corruption? Did I abuse my power? I think this is a kind of character assasination.”
Well, mind the Palace Gate, Sir!



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