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Indonesia president irked by Wikileaks graft claim
Publication Date : 01-08-2014
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his predecessor Megawati Soekarnoputri expressed disappointment on Thursday over a report suggesting the two were implicated in a multinational graft case currently being heard in an Australian court, risking already strained Jakarta-Canberra ties.
Whistle-blowing website Wikileaks released a report that Yudhoyono feared could present “false” accusations. He suspects the report links him and Megawati to graft in the printing of Indonesian bank notes in Australia in 1999.
“The report is hurtful,” Yudhoyono told a press conference at his residence in Cikeas, West Java, on Thursday.
“This kind of report can go viral very quickly and, at the same time, is also very sensitive because it relates to our honour and dignity.”
Denying any role in the case, Yudhoyono asked Australian authorities to be transparent in the legal proceedings into the case.
Yudhoyono and Megawati, as well as former minister Laksamana Sukardi who is also a politician from the Megawati-led Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), were among 17 individuals listed in an order from the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne, leaked by the website.
Dated June 19, the court order has authorised protection of the 17 individuals in connection to court proceedings in an alleged multi-million dollar bribery case.
The remaining 14 people are senior officials as well as current and past heads of state of Malaysia and Vietnam and their relatives.
The order, effective throughout Australia for a maximum period of 5 years, prohibits any form of publication of information linked to the court proceedings on the case that could “reveal, imply, suggest or allege” that any of the 17 individuals had roles in the case.
The purpose of the order is “to prevent damage to Australia’s international relations that may be caused by the publication of material that may damage the reputations of specified individuals.”
But Yudhoyono rejected such a decision. “Australia wanting to hide (the alleged involvement) of certain non-Australian individuals is something that I am not comfortable with because it could trigger suspicions and accusations,” Yudhoyono said.
According to WikiLeaks, seven senior executives of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) subsidiaries Securency and Note Printing Australia (NPA) were “secretly indicted on June 19” concerning allegations of multi-million dollar inducements made by Australian officials to secure contracts for the supply of Australian-style polymer bank notes.
Yudhoyono said that Bank Indonesia (BI) had made a deal with the NPA in 1999 to print 550 million pieces of 100,000 rupiah (US$8.64) bank notes.
The central bank was a non-governmental independent body that solely held the authority on printing bank notes, said the president.
“Whoever the president was at that time, the decision to print the bank notes in Australia had nothing to do with the government and the president,” Yudhoyono said.
The Australian Embassy in Jakarta released a statement later on Thursday that said “the Indonesian president and the former president are not the subject of the securency proceedings.”
It also said the suppression orders aimed at preventing suggestions on “the involvement in corruption of specific senior political figures in the region, whether in fact they were or not.”
“The naming of such figures in the orders does not imply wrongdoing on their part,” the statement added.
Separately, PDI-P secretary general Tjahjo Kumolo said that the report was “baseless and merely sensationalist”.
Sharing Yudhoyono’s concerns, Tjahjo also claimed that Megawati was not involved “because she was not yet president”.
Megawati was vice president from October 1999 to July 2001 before serving as president until October 2004.