Alleged bribery on relief flights must be fully investigated

Green MP Keith Locke wants a full investigation into allegations that rich people were bribing their way on to RNZAF Hercules relief flights out of Aceh.

Newsweek has reported that Indonesian military screeners were taking up to $US80 off people trying to get on to the flights.

“We have a duty to help clean up military corruption in Indonesia,” said Mr Locke, Green Foreign Affairs spokesperson.

“New Zealanders dug deep to help the relief effort in Aceh and want to be assured that their donations will not be used to line the pockets of Indonesian soldiers.

Mr Locke said the Greens were disappointed at the initial reaction of the Defence Force: that it didn’t need to investigate because the Newsweek report was only based on ‘anecdotal’ evidence.

“There is plenty of supporting evidence that the Indonesian military is thoroughly corrupt. Rather than turning a blind eye, we should be helping civilian authorities identify corruption and bring it under control.

“The UN, relief agencies, and aid donors have a common interest in protesting any bribery. We must ensure that all the aid to Aceh is used to alleviate the suffering of those who really need it.

“In addition, we should support the new president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in his efforts to get Indonesian troops to obey his ceasefire order for Aceh. A continuation of the civil war will only add to the misery of the Acehnese people, and inhibit the reconstruction efforts.”