Long time no see: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (right) meets with the new Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) chairman Jusuf Kalla, his former deputy. Kalla discussed the PMI’s plans for the next five years with Yudhoyono. Presidential Office/Editiawarman
Former vice president Jusuf Kalla met President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Wednesday, a day before he is scheduled to testify before the House of Representatives’ special inquiry committee on the Bank Century bailout.
Kalla had a dialogue with Yudhoyono at the State Palace, but denied they talked about Bank Century, as he was invited to the palace in his capacity as the newly-elected chairman of the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI).
When reporters asked Kalla whether Yudhoyono requested he tone down his statements regarding the Bank Century bailout case, he replied: “The President is not like that.”
Kalla said he would answer all he knew about the bailout.
“As a witness, I don’t know what questions [committee members] will ask me,” he said.
On Wednesday, the House inquiry committee summoned Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who played a key role in issuing the decision to bail out Bank Century (now renamed Bank Mutiara) on Nov. 21, 2008, in her capacity as the chairman of the Financial System Stability Committee (KSSK).
Mulyani and Vice President Boediono, who was the central bank governor when the bailout decision was made, said the decision was made to protect the country’s banking sector from a systemic threat amid the global financial crisis.
The inquiry committee suspects the bailout was done illegally, and that some of the Rp 6.76 trillion (US$736.84 million) bailout funds might have been channeled to donors in last year’s election campaigns.
Kalla said he had not prepared any evidence for the bailout case as he “was not the policymaker.”
He also said he was closely following developments in the case through newspapers and television.
Kalla will hold the post until 2014.
The former vice president acted quickly in natural disasters in Yogyakarta, Padang in West Sumatra, and Situ Gintung in Tangerang, Banten.
Yudhoyono praised Kalla’s track record of quick responses to large-scale disasters.
“His reputation is well known, as are his capabilities to act quickly and handle problems amid disasters,” the President said.
“The PMI, which responds in emergency conditions, needs the leadership and management style he possesses.”
Yudhoyono also said former social affairs minister Bachtiar Chamzah would help improve the PMI’s level of assistance.
Kalla has promised to improve the PMI’s role in providing humanitarian assistance, especially during natural disasters.
He was also instrumental in forging a peace deal between the government and Aceh separatists.
Kalla is also responsible for mediating a number of conflicts in Ambon and Poso during his tenure as coordinating public welfare minister under former president Megawati Soekarnoputri.
Indonesian relief team