Subject: Controversial general Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin gets key post

also US allows James Riady to enter after rejecting RI generals, including Sjafrie

see also ETAN: Indonesian General Sjafrie Sjamsuddin Not Fit for Civilian Defense Post

The Jakarta Post

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Controversial general gets key post

Erwida Maulia, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will inaugurate Wednesday a Cabinet secretary and five new deputy ministers.

Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said Tuesday the inauguration would take place at the Presidential Palace at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

Julian added the officials would be appointed deputies to the defense, national education, state national development planning, finance and health ministers, as well as the new Cabinet Secretary.

Lt. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, previously secretary general at the Defense Ministry, will be named deputy defense minister while director general for higher education Fasli Jalal will be appointed deputy national education minister, Julian said.

Lukita Dinarsyah, the deputy for development financing at the National Development Planning Agency, will serve as deputy state minister of national development planning; Anggito Abimanyu, head of the Fiscal Policy Agency will be appointed deputy finance minister; and Fahmi Idris, former chairman of the Indonesian Doctors Association, will be named deputy health minister.

Dipo Alam, a deputy to the coordinating economic minister, will be appointed Cabinet Secretary, filling the post left vacant since former Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi was appointed the new State Secretary along with 38 other Cabinet ministers in October last year.

Dipo is one of the founders of the Batik Foundation who allegedly has a close relationship with First Lady Kristiani Herawati.

The appointees signed a pact of integrity and a performance contract at the Presidential Palace yesterday," Julian said.

Previously, Yudhoyono had also appointed a deputy foreign minister during his first term, saying that then foreign minister Hassan Wirajuda was often abroad attending various meetings, thus necessitating the post of deputy minister for when the President needed a deputy on foreign relations.

Triyono Wibowo was appointed deputy foreign minister on Sept. 11, 2008.

Following his re-election, Yudhoyono hinted he would create the deputy minister positions for other ministries when announcing the Cabinet lineup for his second term.

Five deputy ministers were installed on Nov. 11, 2009: Deputy Agriculture Minister Bayu Krishnamurti, Deputy Public Works Minister Hermanto Dardak, Deputy Transportation Minister Bambang Susantono, Deputy Industry Minister Alex Retraubun and Deputy Trade Minister Mahendra Siregar.

All the deputy ministers are professionals and career officials in their respective fields although the previous House of Representatives had demanded these posts be political instead.

Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro said Sjafrie would face challenges as deputy minister.

His duties include developing strategic industries and managing the Indonesian Military [TNI] and its three branches," Purnomo told reporters after a meeting at the Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister news portal detik.com reported.

The deputy defense minister is also responsible for ensuring the Minimum Essential Force as there has been a surge lately in non-war military operations."

Political observer Arbi Sanit question the appointment of Sjafrie, an active military officer, as deputy defense minister.

The minister and deputy minister should be civilian," he told The Jakarta Post over the phone.

This appointment provide military officers and bureaucrats with additional powers."

Arbi also considered Sjafrie's appointment as Yudhoyono's way of aligning himself with the military.

It would be better for Sjafrie to resign from active military duty."

Sjafrie is an Army lieutenant general and has been accused by rights groups of human rights abuses during the 1998 riots as well as in East Timor. However, he was never been brought to court and has been cleared by the government.

In general, Arbi said, the creation of deputy ministerial posts were a waste of resources violating principles of efficiency, effectiveness and good governance.

It is an unfair move by the government to create such positions while there are still many poor people out there."

--

The Jakarta Post

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

US allows Riady to enter after rejecting RI generals

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Tycoon James Riady made it to Boston in September last year when President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono delivered a speech in front of US and Indonesian businesspeople.

Riady could re-enter the US after the US State Department through the country's embassy here, waived an eight-year ban on him.

At the same time, two Indonesian generals, Lt. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin and Maj. Gen. Pramono Edi Wibowo, had to stay home after the embassy rejected their visas although they applied for them as part of the President's entourage, raising questions here and in the US on how such a contrast of treatment could occur.

There was no official statement on the reason for rejecting the visa application for the two generals, but speculation emerged that Sjafrie, today announced as deputy defense minister, was barred due to his alleged involvement in a human rights violations in Dili, East Timor, and in the bloody May 1998 riots, while Pramono, the Indonesian Army special squad Kopassus commander, was not provided a visa because of his squad's past involvement in rights abuses.

While Sjafrie has never been charged with a crime, Riady was barred from America after pleading guilty in 2001 to a "conspiracy to defraud the United States" through illegal contributions to Bill Clinton's campaigns and other Democrats.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Riady traveled twice to the US last year after receiving a waiver from a rule that forbids entry to foreigners guilty of "a crime involving moral turpitude", a term that government lawyers generally interpret to include fraud.

The newspaper said that Riady's return to the US posed a prickly question for Hillary Clinton's State Department: hhow and why did a foreign billionaire, stained by Clinton-era scandals, receive a US visa after being denied entry for so long under the Bush administration?

Riady's ties to the Clintons have been a source of heated controversy since the late 1990s when Riady became embroiled in one of the murkiest episodes of the Clinton presidency, a fund-raising scandal that caused a political ruckus in Washington amid Republican Party allegations, never proved, of meddling, by China intelligence in American politics.

The saga brought Riady and his family run conglomerate, Lippo Group, a US$8.6 million fine, the biggest penalty in the history of US campaign finance violations.

Riady told The Washington Post that he had not seen the Clintons during his 2009 trips to America, but did pay $20,000 to become a member of the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual gathering of prominent figures in politics, business and philanthropy, sponsored by Bill Clinton.

A member of the foreign affairs commission at the Indonesian House of Representatives, Guntur Sasono from Yudhoyono's Democratic Party, questioned the double standard of the US, saying the House had asked the foreign minister to address the matter.

An expert from Bandung's Parahyangan Catholic University, Anak Agung Banyu Perwita, said it was no surprise the US applied a different standard on Riady and Sjafrie.

The US has authority," he said. "However, due to Sjafrie's important position, we should ask the US about the different treatment.

Although it has the right not to answer."


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