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Bishops slate mega-building project

Unhappy that fortune is to be spent on parliament building not good works

Design of the new parliament building Design of the new parliament building
  • Konradus Epa, Jakarta
  • Indonesia
  • April 6, 2011
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Islamic, Catholic and Protestant leaders yesterday issued a joint statement deploring a plan to build a multi-million dollar parliament building, calling on the president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to put a stop to it.

"We reject the construction. If house members are so concerned with new facilities, I think they do not care about people,” said Capuchin Bishop Martinus Dogma Situmorang of Padang, president of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference .

Work on the 1.6 trillion rupiah (US$185m) project is scheduled to start in October this year. The 36-storey building, with 161,000 sq m of floor space, will house 560 council members.

The bishop said the planned facility hurts people and will further impact on the life of poor people.

"Many people are poor,” he said, adding that about 35 million of 237m Indonesians receive less than one US dollar a day.

The bishop said the funds should be used for more urgent needs such as poor transportation, electricity, education and health facilities.

Muliawan Margadana, chairman of the Indonesian Association of Catholic Intellectuals also disagreed with the plan as current building is still functional.

“Legislators must hear the real voice of the people and the silent majority,” he said. He even suspected the project had “a hidden agenda ahead of the 2014 election.”

Stefanus Gusma, chairman of the Union of Catholic University Students of the Republic of Indonesia (PMKRI), said the mega-project “shows the arrogance of some legislator members.”

Gusma believed the project was merely serving the vested interests of certain groups and individuals.

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