News Focus: Bank Century major stumbling block for Mulyani

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The newly established Independent United People`s Party (SRI) has made public its plan to nominate former finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, currently World Bank managing director, as its presidential candidate in the 2014 presidential race.

But observers see that the chance for Sri Mulyani to take part in the 2014 presidential contest is small as she faces heavy challenges, one of which is the Rp6.7 trillion Bank Century bailout scandals.

"One can just nominate Sri Mulyani as a presidential candidate in 2014 but the Bank Century issue could hamper her because the issue would always be raised," Director of the Setara Institute Hendardi said.

Sri Mulyani as a finance minister was one of the figures involved in injecting up to Rp6.7 trillion to bail out ailing Bank Century in the midst of a world economic crisis at the end of 2008.

The House of Representatives has considered the policy wrong and has asked the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to investigate possible corruption in it. The KPK has so far found no indications of corruption in the bailout decision, however.

The case began when the ailing bank was then taken over by the Deposit Insurance Agency (LPS). The government provided it with a bailout of Rp6.7 trillion through the issuance of a Short-Term Funding Facility (FPJP) and Temporary Capital Participation (PMS).

The amount provided was far higher than the Rp1.3 trillion then discussed with the House of Representatives (DPR). It sparked public criticism and questions as it was disbursed without approval of the House of Representatives (DPR).

At a House plenary session, seven of the nine factions mentioned that violations had been committed with regard to the issuance of the Short-Term Funding Facility (FPJP) and Temporary Capital Participation (PMS).

Until now, the Bank Century case still remained unsettled. Hendardi said that the Bank Century case had become a political decision where the House had recommended that the KPK should investigate it.

He said that Sri Mulyani could be freed from the Bank Century shackles if the KPK closed it. "The Bank Century issue could serve as a stumbling block for Sri Mulyani. The KPK should soon settle the problem so that it would not continue to become a political issue," he said.

Secretary General of the National Mandate Party (PAN) Taufik Kurniawan occurred Hendardi saying that he was still difficult to see the chance of Sri Mulyani in the 2014 presidential race. Even without the SRI party, Mulyani would face problem to compete in the presidential contest.

"With regard to Sri Mulyani, we cannot comment much before the SRI party passes the verification process," Taufik said.

He expressed doubts that SRI would pass verifications so that he would not comment on its presidential nominee in the 2014 presidential race.

"PAN sees the establishment of SRI as a normal thing just like other newly established political parties such as the Nasdem and the Nasrep. SRI is still a would-be political party and it is still uncertain whether it will pass the verification process," Taufik said here on Friday.

Yet, he said, PAN would welcome Mulyani in the arena of real competition if SRI passed the verification because the presence of SRI would enliven the 2014 presidential race.

"So, we in the democratic atmosphere in the post reforms movement are of course happy to witness how the rights to union and assemble are reflected in the political party. All of this is regulated in the law. The presence of the political parties undoubtedly enlivens our democracy," he said.

Earlier, SRI had registered as a political party with the Ministry of Law and Human Rights. The party is led by Damianus Taufan and planning to nominate former finance minister Sri Mulyani as its presidential candidate in the 2014 presidential elections.

Political observer Ikrar Nusa Bhakti of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) said that SRI should be able to free Sri Mulyani from the shackles of Bank Century stigma if it would nominate Sri Mulyani as its presidential candidate in the 2014 presidential race.

He indicated however that presidential hopefuls in the 2014 polls should not come from military and political circles only.

"There should also be presidential candidates from other areas of profession who are trusted by the people and have integrity," Ikrar said. The presidential candidates who came from other backgrounds should have high integrity and good track records, such as freedom from corruption links.

He did not indicate whether he had a reference to Sri Mulyani Indrawati who would be nominated by the newly established Independent United People`s Party (SRI), but he said the press already knew who he meant.

According to Setara Institute director Hendardi, the KPK would be very decisive for the readiness of Sri Mulyani to become a presidential candidate.

If the KPK ruled that the bail-out fund amounting to Rp6.7 trillion to Bank Century did not violate banking crime rules, then Sri Mulyani would be freed from the psychological burden.

"In order to prevent it from becoming a continuous discourse, the Bank Century case should be settled, because otherwise, political rivals could take advantage of the public opinion to judge or to abort a presidential candidacy," he said. (*)