Indonesian Legislators Embark on Year-End Overseas Junkets
Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Two teams of lawmakers from the House of Representatives’ Commission VII have departed for visits to the United States and Brazil in relation to draft laws on aviation and space.
The team headed to the United States left on Friday, while the Brazil-bound contingent left two days later. House Commission VII deals with energy and mineral resources, research and technology, and the environment.
Nur Yasin, a member of the team in Brazil, said by telephone on Wednesday that the visits were necessary because lawmakers lacked knowledge on the substance of the matters addressed in the two draft bills.
“Many of us are blind [on these matters] and our experts are still probing their way around too, while we have to complete [the bills’ deliberations] soon,” said Nur, a member of the ruling Democratic Party.
He said the team, comprised of 13 lawmakers, two members of the House Secretariat and four members from the National Aerospace and Aviation Institute (Lapan), will be in Brazil until Tuesday.
“This is not a tourism visit. No. We are tired, from morning we are holding meetings with the aerospace research department and the defense ministry,” he said.
However, the Democrats’ House chairwoman, Nurhayati Ali Assegaf, said she had not yet given permission to Democratic lawmakers to take part in the visits.
“They did indeed file a request for a permit, but I just received it yesterday and I have not signed it yet. If they have already left, they clearly will incur sanction from the [party] faction,” Nurhayati said.
Two Democratic lawmakers, Milton Pakpahan and Siti Romlay, filed permit requests to the party’s House faction.
Sutan Bhatoegana, the leader of the team going to Brazil, is also a senior Democratic official. Nurhayati did not mention his name in conjunction with the travel requests.
Legislators have in the past come under fire for their overseas visits, seen by critics as wasteful public spending in this age of information technology. The criticism was also spawned in part due to reports of lawmakers indulging in non-official activities such as sightseeing and shopping during trips, and the involvement of family members in some cases.