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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        19  May 2011

Indonesian minister may lose office

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It may never have crossed Agus Martowardojo’s mind that using the government’s own investment agency to buy a stake in Newmont Nusa Tenggara could cost him his job as finance minister.

However, legislators on House Commission XI that oversees finance, insist the purchase of 7 percent of the miner by the State Investment Agency (PIP) was against the law.

“According to 2004 Law No. 1, this kind of deal has to be agreed by the House of Representatives. It is an abuse of power. We can bring this to the state audit agency [BPK] or the Supreme Court,” said Nusron Wahid, a Golkar Party lawmaker on the commission.

The lawmakers held a special hearing on Wednesday to examine the deal that gave the government the last of NNT’s shares.

“What we want to say here is that we are concerned about the finance minister and want him to stop this before it is too late. Because, my brother, if you continue with this, you could go to jail or be forced to resign,” Nusron said, referring to Agus.

NNT and the central government agreed on a sale price of $246.8 million, a 10 percent discount on the initial valuation. The deal is still not finalized, though, as it still needs to clear the Energy Ministry and the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM).

Agus was adamant that the steps he had taken were in the state’s mandate and in compliance with the law Nusron cited.

“The law says that the finance minister can invest and manage the investment,” Agus said. “We bought the shares to protect state interests and make sure [NNT] follows good governance. We even have commissioners there.”

“If I was wrong, I am ready to resign,” he added.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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