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Yudhoyono says his family unfairly targeted
Publication Date : 15-02-2013
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono complained yesterday that he had been unfairly targeted by the media and that the barrage of criticism had been hard on him and his family.
“It has been hard for me and my family recently. Personally, I am prepared as it comes with the job of being president,” Yudhoyono said in a press conference to announce a decision made by his son Edhie “Ibas” Baskoro to resign from his position at the House of Representatives.
Ibas resigned only two days after he was caught on camera skipping a House plenary session.
“I apologise for my failure to attend the House sessions. There is no way I can carry out my duties as a lawmaker while at the same time serving as the secretary-general of the Democratic Party,” said Ibas, adding that he also needed to spend more time with his newborn son, who is currently ill.
Yudhoyono, who insisted that he would concentrate on his job until his term expired in 2014, also said he was dismayed with the intensified attacks against members of his family.
The president said he was concerned about the well-being of his family and friends who “have been the victims of attacks via harsh comments on talk shows, social media sites and short message services [SMS]”.
Yudhoyono’s comments came only one day after politicians suggested that one of his circle within the Presidential Palace had leaked a Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) letter naming Democratic Party chairman Anas Urbaningrum a suspect in a graft case.
The leak was seen as an elaborate attempt to expedite the removal of the embattled chairman. The Palace said that the allegation gave the wrong impression of Yudhoyono being at odds with Anas.
This was just the latest in a long line of media reports signalling problems affecting Yudhoyono’s family, including The Jakarta Post’s recent report on his and his sons’ tax returns.
Yudhoyono was also accused of being an authoritarian leader following his recent decision to take over the leadership of the Democratic Party from Anas.
Later, in his opening remarks for a plenary Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Office, Yudhoyono called on his ministers to maintain their integrity in the face of intensified scrutiny from the public and the media.
Yudhoyono reminded the ministers “not to let anyone, whether from the House or from business, infiltrate the institutions they led”.
He also said that ministers should not allow themselves to become preoccupied with trivial issues.
“Don’t let minor issues become running news while forgetting to handle the really big issues that are important for the country’s development,” he said.
Also on Thursday, Yudhoyono made a statement that many said was a fresh attack against the Golkar Party chairman, Aburizal Bakrie.
During the Cabinet meeting, Yudhoyono slammed gas exploration company PT Minarak Lapindo Jaya, a subsidiary of PT Lapindo Brantas, which is partly owned by the Bakrie family, for failing to pay compensation to the Sidoarjo mudflow victims, who have been languishing since 2006.
“I heard that Lapindo has not fulfilled its obligation. Its liability of 800 billion rupiah [US$82.9 million] has not been met. Tell Lapindo that it must keep its promise. It’s a sin if they play around with these people,” he said.
Yudhoyono made the statement before his ministers, which included several of Aburizal’s colleagues from Golkar, Coordinating People’s Welfare Minister Agung Laksono, Industry Minister MS Hidayat and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Cicip Sutardjo.
Speaking after the Cabinet meeting, Agung denied suggestions that Yudhoyono’s statement was politically motivated.
“No, I don’t think so. His remark is consistent with what the Public Works Ministry has been doing; working to ensure that Lapindo fulfills its obligation,” Agung told reporters.
Contacted separately, Aburizal’s spokesman, Lalu Mara Satria Wangsa, denied that Lapindo had neglected the victims of the mudflow.
“Thank you, Mr. President, for the attention. You are still aware about Lapindo including the Supreme Court ruling, which found that we were not guilty. We are meeting our commitment to settle the payments,” Lalu Mara said.
Lalu Mara said the delay in the compensation payments was tolerable. “We are only human and we have shortcomings,” he said.
Agung, meanwhile, declined to explain why Lapindo had been so slow in responding to the demands for compensation.
“Of the remaining 800 billion rupiah in liabilities, 400 billion rupiah has been paid to victims. So, the fact that the payments have not been completed does not mean that no payment has been made at all,” he said.
Lapindo has paid only 2.9 trillion rupiah of the required 3.8 trillion rupiah in compensation to 4,129 victims from four villages in Sidoarjo, affected by the Lapindo mudflow: Jatirejo, Kedung Bendo, Renokenongo and Siring.
The government, as mandated in Article 18 of Law No. 4/2012 on the state budget, is required to earmark funds for the mudflow and, so far, it has set aside 500 billion rupiah to help Lapindo Brantas pay the compensation.