Indonesian President Lashes Out at Unnamed Conspirators
Febriamy Hutapea & Camelia Pasandaran
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Sunday accused unnamed figures of using the Bank Century bailout scandal to topple his government and possibly force him from office.
He also repeated claims he made last week that his political opponents were behind a planned demonstration at Monas on Wednesday to mark International Anti-Corruption Day.
Yudhoyono, Vice President Boediono and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati have been under fire over the government’s Rp 6.7 trillion ($710 million) bailout of Bank Century amid unsubstantiated allegations that some of the money was embezzled.
Both the House of Representatives and the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) are now investigating the bailout.
“I, along with my wife and family, pray at midnight, seeking answers behind all the defamation and character assassinations,” Yudhoyono said.
“My common sense says the current political behavior, in the short term at least, wants to discredit, shake and if possible, throw out SBY and the administration that he leads,” Yudhoyono said while briefing members of his Democratic Party during a national leadership meeting at the Jakarta Convention Center.
The president also accused unnamed persons of having a long-term plan of damaging the reputation of the Democrats so the party will lose the 2014 general elections.
He said defamatory statements, such as accusations that money was diverted from the Century bailout into Democratic Party coffers, had surfaced from nowhere and shocked the public just as the party was preparing to celebrate its eighth anniversary on Sunday.
Last week, the People’s Democratic Defense (Bendera) a fringe nationalist group, claimed to have evidence that Rp 1.8 trillion was channeled to Yudhoyono’s re-election campaign, members of his inner circle and various state agencies.
The accused officials countered by filing a criminal defamation complaint with the police.
“What we know, God knows, history knows, there’s not even one cent that illegally came into our party’s campaign fund. That’s the doctrine and philosophy we practice,” Yudhoyono said to applause.
The president said any Democrat found to have broken the law would be punished. However, he urged party members not to seek retribution against their opponents, and invoking the May 1998 riots, warned them against violence.
“Don’t be tempted to cross the dark line or [into] dark politics,” the president said.
Again addressing the antigraft demonstration scheduled for Wednesday, Yudhoyono said it was politically motivated and that he was fully aware of who the target of the protests would be. He did not elaborate.
Some political analysts labeled the president’s remarks last week as “paranoid.”
Other analysts said Yudhoyono was trying to portray himself as a victim under attack from all corners to gain public sympathy.