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Human rights body recommends independent team for Pakpahan

Jakarta Post - August 6, 1997

Jakarta – The National Commission for Human Rights promised yesterday to urge the government to form an independent medical team to seek a third opinion on labor leader Muchtar Pakpahan's health. Commission member Muladi told Pakpahan's lawyers and a delegation from the Indonesian Prosperous Labor Union (SBSI) that the commission would send a letter to Minister of Justice Oetojo Oesman and Attorney General Singgih asking them to form a team to get a third opinion or facilitate lung imagy fluorescence endoscopy (LIFE) treatment.

Muladi said that if the government could not provide LIFE treatment, then it should " just let Pakpahan go abroad, to Singapore at least, accompanied by a Army Special Forces officer or a commission member if needed".

Pakpahan, chairman of SBSI, was admitted to Cikini Hospital in Central Jakarta in March while he was on trial for subversion. During the proceedings, Pakpahan demanded that a nonprison doctor examine him. His request was initially denied. Last month he asked the government to let him travel abroad for treatment because Cikini Hospital doctors recommended LIFE treatment, which is unavailable in Indonesia. The government then sought a second opinion from a team of doctors from state-run Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital, who found that there was no need for Pakpahan to travel abroad.

Pakpahan then demanded an independent medical team involving the international committee of the Red Cross to seek a third opinion. In a letter delivered to the rights commission yesterday, Pakpahan questioned the attorney general's statement that he could be treated here, whereas the second opinion did not disclose an exact diagnosis. According to Pakpahan, the prognosis of the second opinion, which claims the labor leader's illness does not need treatment abroad, is still far from definite.


AFP reported from Jakarta on 7 August that the Attorney General's office has dismissed a demand for an independent medical examination for Muchtar Pakpahan. 'The demand is no longer necessary,' said deputy attorney general Ismujoko, adding that opinions given by health ministry doctors and the Cipto Mangungkusumo Hospital were 'enough'.

'I am still convinceed that I will be given the chance for a third opinion because that is my right as a patient and a citizen,' said Pakpahan, speaking during a court session in East Jakarta, Thursday.

Pakpahan and his unrecognised labout union have called for an independent medical examination, accusing state doctors of basing their opinion on a 'political' decision.

'The result (from the state doctors) said that they did not know exactly what was wrong with me but concluded that I did not need the LIFE treatment,' Pakpahan said Thursday. 'The second medical check-up had just two objectives: to bar me from going abroad and to say that I am well enough to go on with my (subversion) trials. It was not done for my health,' he said.