Ezra Sihite& Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Ahmad Supit, the new chairman of the much maligned House Budget Commission, on Tuesday admitted that the public’s perception of the committee was negative and that the body needed to take steps to improve its image.
“The view of the public on the budget commission so far is hurtful, as if this is the place to conduct corrupt transactions,” Ahmad said on his first day in office.
He said that regardless of the public’s perception, the committee is a strategic institution in the legislature because it deals with developing the budget.
Ahmad said he will spend his first few days on the job questioning members of the commission to determine if there is a common vision or mission that everyone can agree on. He will also ask the committee members to be more disciplined in their attendance “so that the discussions in meetings can be more effective.”
He added that curtailing the authority of the committee while revising the law on higher legislative institutions was unnecessary. “The committee and the commissions are not overlapping and therefore the only thing that is needed is synchronization,” he said.
Ahmad replaced Melchias Markus Mekeng as chairman of the budget commission.
The Golkar Party has also withdrawn Melchias from the commission and replaced him with Charles Mesang.
Melchias has been implicated in a graft case that involves suspended National Mandate Party (PAN) lawmaker Wa Ode Nurhayati.
The committee’s deputy chairman, Mirwan Amir, from the Democratic Party, was also removed from his position. He is being investigated by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for money laundering.
Mirwan was replaced as deputy chairman by Djoko Udjianto.
Anis Matta, the deputy House speaker, said that with Ahmad’s appointment, the budget commission will no longer be subject to raids and searches by the KPK.
The KPK had already searched the committee’s premises and summoned the old leadership of the committee as part of its investigation into a case of corruption linked to regional infrastructure adjustment funds.
“We need to make decisions that will benefit the state and we also hope that this place will no longer need to be searched in the future,” Anis said.
The committee has spent the past several months trying to maintain a clean image, something that was virtually impossible due to several of its members being linked to a variety of corruption cases.
Tamsil Linrung from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and Olly Dondokambey from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) retained their positions as deputy chairmen of the budget commission.
Tamsil said that the ongoing corruption cases had nothing to do with the departures of Mirwan or Melchias. He said that Melchias resigned from his position, citing a need to concentrate on his studies and on his constituency.
“He has long said that he wanted to concentrate on his studies and constituency but we still asked him to stay to discuss the budget until the 2013 state budget,” Tamsil said.
He added that Melchias resigned from the committee on Aug. 16.
Tamsil also said that Mirwan continues to serve on the committee, albeit in a smaller role.