Subject: Lawmakers Question Govt Over 1993 Warship Debt

The Jakarta Globe Thursday, November 27, 2008

Lawmakers Question Govt Over 1993 Warship Debt

Markus Junianto Sihaloho

The government came under pressure Wednesday to address a foreign debt from a 1993 purchase of 39 former East German warships.

The Suharto administration in 1993 signed a $466 million loan agreement with the German government to buy the 39 warships, many of which were in poor repair.

Members of the House of Representatives' commission on defense and foreign affairs, Andreas Hugo Pareira and Jeffrey Massie, urged the government to file a diplomatic note urging the German Government to erase the debt immediately.

Andreas, of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P, said the many parties involved in the procurement should be summoned to clarify the matter because the debt was a burden upon all Indonesians.

Jeffrey Massie, from the Prosperous Peace Party, or PDS, said an investigation should be launched to uncover all aspects of the purchase, including the current amount of the debt, which neither representative knew. Masssie said the deal was made during former President Suharto's New Order regime and no details had been made public.

Donatus Klaudius Marut, executive director of the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development, said on Wednesday that the contract for the purchase of the ships contravened the 1969 Vienna Convention on the validity of bilateral contracts.

"So the contract is purely invalid, and we [Indonesia] have the right to ask for a wiping out of the full amount of the debt," he said.

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