Thursday, November 12, 2009

Century fiasco & conspiracy theory (5)

The Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) is scheduled to submit results of its investigative audit on Bank Century bailout to House Commission XI next week. Legislators from eight political parties except President SBY's Demokrat Party, meanwhile, have signed a petition requesting the establishment of an inquiry committee to probe the bailout.
Melchias Mekeng, deputy chairman of House Commission XI, said BPK has informed the commission members that the audit will be disclosed to public. BPK's audit will be the most critical for the future of the case. In late September, the then BPK chief Anwar Nasution informed the House of Representatives (DPR) that there are indications of wrongdoings in the bailout.
Attorney General's Office (AGO), meanwhile, has concluded no wrongdoings committed in the bailout. Civil society groups and some politicians condemned AGO for such a premature conclusion, calling it politically-driven to protect the ruling elite.
As of yesterday, 78 legislators from eight political parties have signed the petition led by "opposition party" PDI-P. Interestingly, National Mandate Party (PAN) has also joined the movement. PAN leaders reportedly split on this issue, especially because two figures are currently key cabinet members. They are Hatta Rajasa (coordinating minister for the economy) and Zulkiefli Hasan (forestry affairs minister). Former chairman Amien Rais said the inquiry is not needed yet, while the outgoing chairman Soetrisno Bachir said PAN legislators should support the movement even though he admitted PAN legislators don't listen to him because of strong influence of Amien Rais, known as close ally of Hatta Rajasa.
Gayus Lumbuun, legislator from PDI-P, said the House only approved a bailout of Rp1.3 trillion to save Century. "It was then revealed that the true cost rose to Rp6.7 trillion," he said.
There are speculations that higher cost of bailout was granted not out of a desire to protect the banking system from what officials claimed as "systemic risk", but as part of a scheme to rescue politically wired depositors.
Boedi Sampoerna is considered a single largest depositor in Century with outstanding deposit over US$200 million before the bank collapsing of frauds committed by its own shareholders. There were speculations that some of the Century money flown to political parties, including SBY's Demokrat Party. The convicted shareholder, Robert Tantular, dismissed the speculation.
House Speaker Marzuki Ali (legislator from SBY's Demokrat Party) criticized the petition saying legislators should be patient in waiting audit report from BPK.
Akbar Faisal, legislator from Hanura Party, said if money trails confirmed the money flow to Demokrat, the inquiry into Century bailout may lead to impeachment of President SBY.
BPK chief Hadi Purnomo (former director general of tax) said earlier that the agency is trying to accomplish the audit before year end.
Civil society groups, meanwhile, have their own way to mount pressures. Some of them logged in reports to Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). "This (Century) case is the root of various cases in the country," Adhie Massardi, former president's spokesperson (under Wahid administration).
A bigger civil society movement would be more effective than the House inquiry. History told us of how similar inquiries have ended up nowhere and have only been used by politicians to raise their bargaining position.
Someone used this issue to get something already. He would keep riding on this issue to get what he wants. For example, if you are Greedy Group with interest in acquiring gold and copper mine, but one name implicated in the bailout blocks your way, you may ask some legislators to raise the tone of their voices. A conspiracy of the past leads to another conspiracy in the future.
Impeachment of SBY might be considered too-far-away even though it is not impossible. But the most visible impact is on effectiveness of this administration. The House committee will summon VP Boediono (as former central bank governor), Sri Mulyani Indrawati (finance minister), and other officers involved in the bailout decision. This case would consume their resources (time, energy, focus, etc).
As for civil society groups, they have to be aware of the current conspiracy between business groups and some political parties, guard the process, and if they doubt the House process, they have their own House: Facebook!
(Ferdy Hasiman & Haryanto Suharman, contributed to this article)



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