ASEAN and Financial Crisis: Indonesia Jostle by Special Interests Against Finance Minister

Updated On: Oct 23, 2008

Amidst the global financial crisis, reports from Jakarta are that special interests are lobbying hard on behalf of an Indonesian major conglomerate to tap government assistance to save its business empire.

Reports go on to suggest that calls are being made to remove Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati as she has tried to prevent these measures, and safeguard the state budget from abuse and clamp down on violators.

Finance Ministry sources and some businessmen said one of the moves being made to discredit Mulyani was to promote an image of her as lacking nationalism, a sentiment widely touted since her appointment as minister back in 2004. Mulyani was previously a director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has been blamed by some in Jakarta for much of Indonesia’s difficulties during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Economist Faisal Basri, Mulyani's close friend and former colleague at the University of Indonesia, blamed certain parties, inconvenienced by Mulyani's moves to deal with the financial meltdown, as the main sponsors of the efforts.

Mulyani has been praised for her efforts in reforming the once corruption-infested customs and tax offices, including refusing to allow 10 helicopters belonging to a firm linked to Vice President Jusuf Kalla to pass through customs before paying duties. Her courage was on show again when she ordered state-run Bank Mandiri to transfer disputed funds worth Rp 1.23 trillion (US$ 126 million) from Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, son of the late former president Soeharto, to the state account for development use.


Source: Jakarta Post, “Efforts seen to unseat Sri Mulyani: Sources”, 22 Oct, http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2008/10/22/efforts-seen-unseat-sri-mu....

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