Kuntoro Mangkusubroto: I must clean up the black spot

INDONESIA Corruption Watch (ICW) and the Aceh Anticorruption Movement (Gerak) suspect there was corruption in the procurement of books by the Aceh-Nias Rehabilitation & Reconstruction Agency (BRR). Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, its chairman, is totally shocked. “It feels like cold water being poured on me, but we accept it and strive to improve ourselves,” he commented on the bad news to Tempo reporters L.R. Baskoro and Abdul Manan, who met him before a seminar in Jakarta last Friday. Excerpts of the interview:
The Aceh prosecution service is investigating a possible case of corruption in the book project at your place…
To be honest, I feel sad and concerned. If the charges are true, I am very shocked. The project has no direct relations with reconstruction, like building a house and so forth. We ask that the prosecution go ahead with its investigation. Our commitment is clear: there can be no manipulation or corruption in any of the sectors.
Has the anticorruption unit made its own investigation?
When we found indications of corruption, the unit immediately went to work.
Did you take part in the process?
No. I must manage a much bigger corridor. I cannot focus on such a small issue, even though it’s very bothersome.
Because of this case, you met with Vice President Jusuf Kalla…
I meet with the Vice President almost every month to report on progress in the reconstruction. So, I just happened to see him three days after the ICW announced its findings in the newspapers. I explained about the case to the Vice President.
What was his reaction?
He said, “Oh, I read about it and am aware of how the case is progressing.” He said that the matter needed attention, to prevent it from becoming a bigger problem. The work of the BRR is, after all, huge.
Have your read the report by Indonesia Corruption Watch?
No. I just read it from the papers. I got a headache from it. I wanted to enjoy myself on a Saturday, but that news spoiled it for me.
The report put the BRR in an awkward position?
No. That’s what their function is. Although this is like a cold shower, we should accept it and strive to improve ourselves. We don’t need to be defensive. We just put it to right again.
Do you know anyone in the company that printed the book?
No. How can I be managing something like that?
You said the printing company was appointed without a tender because it was an emergency. What did you mean by that?
I want to correct that. It wasn’t an emergency, but in a hurry. One year of the BRR fell at the beginning of May. The budget planning was last April. We wanted to be on time to report to the President, the cabinet and the DPR (House of Representatives). But there was little time to print the book. Finally, we didn’t use the printing press but digital printing. They said this was expensive. That’s what I know.
Did you approve the process?
No. There was a team of its own.
What will you do if the prosecution finds there’s a case?
If they find a suspect, I will dismiss that person. I don’t have to wait for the court’s verdict. This institution must maintain its integrity. I must maintain the international community’s confidence in us. If there is a black spot, however small, it’s still a black spot. And I must clean that up.
Other than the book project, ICW indicated there might be irregularities in the appointment of PT Holcim in destroying drugs in Aceh.
In Aceh, there are about 3,000 tons of drugs with overdue expiration dates. There are two ways of destroying them: to bury them or to burn them. Because this is a quake-prone area, the first method is dangerous because if there’s a quake, they can poison the ground. The only way is to destroy them in an incinerator. The cement factory with a license to do this from the Environmental Department is Holcim.
The appointment of Holcim was not because you are a commissioner in that company?
No. I had nothing to do with the decision.
Tempo Magazine, No. 02/VII/Sept 12 – 18, 2006

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