Jakarta – Former Army Strategic Reserves Command (Green Berets, Kostrad) chief of staff retired Major General Kivlan Zen has spoken out about a request for money from Wiranto in 1998. Zen claimed that he asked Wiranto for money to cover the cost of setting up Pam Swakarsa.
Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs (Menko Polhukam) Wiranto admitted earlier that Zen once asked him for money, although he did not explain when or how much money Zen asked for.
According to Zen, he was owed the money as reimbursement for the cost of setting up the Civilian Guards (Pasukan Pengamanan Masyarakat Swakarsa, Pam Swakarsa) on the orders of Wiranto when he was the commander in chief of ABRI (the Indonesian Armed Forces, now known as the TNI).
The paramilitary group was formed by ABRI to counter student protests and support the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Special Meeting in 1998.
"Correct, I asked for money because Wiranto at the time ordered me to form the Pam Swakarsa. But he didn't pay me a single cent", Zen told CNN Indonesia on Wednesday February 27.
Zen claimed that he was forced to sell his house to finance the Pam Swakarsa. Yet, according to Zen, Wiranto had already obtained 10 billion rupiah from the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) to pay for the paramilitary group.
"He [Wiranto] admitted that he had received 10 billion rupiah from Bulog, but he didn't give it to me. There was a written order. I was within my rights to ask for it", he said.
Zen accused Wiranto of corruption because he used the money from Bulog for his personal interests and Zen never received the money.
"To this day I've never been given it, so I asked [for it again], the last time, four months ago. The money went into his own pocket, that's corruption. What the hell, the general (Wiranto) made me poor", he said.
When sought for confirmation meanwhile, Wiranto was reluctant to comment further. He asked that all parties focus on preparations for the April presidential and legislative elections.
"I've already said enough. We're in the midst of an election. Everyone is concentrating on the nation, not on matters such as this. I've already answered, enough", he said.
The debate between the two began when Zen accused Wiranto of being the mastermind behind the May 1998 riots in Jakarta and the resignation of former President Suharto.
Wiranto denied the accusations and challenged Zen and presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto to provide evidence on who was behind the 1998 riots by making a "sumpah pocong" (to swear on one's mother's grave).
Wiranto said a "sumpah pocong" is necessary so that the issue is clear. He also asked Zen not to make baseless accusations. Wiranto claimed that he took a number of measures to ensure that the riots which took place on May 13-15, 1998, did not escalate. (psp/osc)
Kivlan Zen is as a retired hardline and xenophobic general best known for his bizarre claims about the revival of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and a staunch supporter of presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto.
Pam Swakarsa, along with other military-backed Islamic vigilante groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), were setup to counter student demonstrations ahead of the 1998 Special Session of the People's Consultative Assembly, which was to hear the accountability speech of former President Suharto's hand-picked successor President B.J. Habibie.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Kivlan Akui Minta Duit ke Wiranto untuk Bentuk Pam Swakarsa".]